As you may have noticed, the New York Knicks have been less decimated by injuries than usual. That may not be a coincidence; the Knicks made some big changes to their medical staff and conditioning programs. They have been working on a new fitness system for quite a while, according to Derek Fisher:
"Our goal is to create this type of environment where all guys are available hopefully all 82 games. That started last season -- reevaluating what we were doing, how we were doing it. How the practices should be structured, how long they should be, offseason progress.
"[It was] all designed to create this environment. Everybody can be here for us and ready to play and it gives us the most chance to win. Hopefully we can keep that up.''
It should be noted that team president Phil Jackson harped on the Knicks' conditioning problems almost from the moment he took the job toward the end of the 2013-14 season. If you believe the rumors, James Dolan vetoed any possible changes to the medical staff in the summer of 2014.
So what changed? It's not like 2014-15 was an especially injury-plagued season, at least by Knicks standards -- this is the franchise that employed Amar'e Stoudemire for five years. Did the Zen Master finally wear down the owner using his mind powers? Was Dolan distracted during his summer hanging out with Isiah Thomas and the first-place Liberty? Eh, I don't want to spend any more time trying to figure out what's going on in that dude's brain.
Instead, let's get to know the new members of New York's medical staff -- the brave men and women tasked with driving Knicks medical practices forward into at least the 19th century.
Erwin Benedict Valencia -- Director of Training and Conditioning
Mr. Valencia is in his second year with the club; he was promoted from the position of team physical therapist and assistant athletic trainer. According to his team bio, he is something of a trailblazer:
Raised and educated in the Philippines, Erwin is the first Filipino to be on the medical staff for both an NBA and MLB team...Prior to joining Knicks, was Rehabilitation Director of the Pittsburgh Pirates for eight seasons...In 2012, founded the socially-responsible global education company KinetIQ, providing "next step" knowledge in sports medicine, wellness and performance art to institutions around the world...Remains Director of Medical & Performance Services for Baseball New Zealand and is a consultant to several teams internationally.
Kudos on the promotion, my man!
Shimon Ishikawa -- Performance Analyst
Wasn't able to find out much about this guy, except for the fact that he went to the University of Oklahoma and worked there as a graduate assistant trainer. Boomer Sooner!
Erika Whitman -- Dietitian
Ms. Whitman has served as dietitian for college athletic programs at Penn State, the University of Florida and Notre Dame. Prior to joining the Knicks, she worked as a performance dietitian for the U.S. Department of Defense. Clearly she felt she needed to do more important work for her nation -- namely, bulking up Kristaps Porzingis. You are a true patriot, ma'am.
I wish you luck, new Knicks medical folk. Please don't cut off anybody's leg.