SCSV Interview series: Marco Nunez, Head Athletic Trainer for the LA Lakers (NBA)
For this issue’s exclusive interview, SportsCouncil SV had a chance to have a brief Q&A with Marco Nunez, Head Athletic Trainer for the Los Angeles Lakers on his perspective of keeping his players at optimal levels and where technology in sports may be headed.
SCSV: Marco, thank you for taking the time to speak with us. To begin, especially for those of our audience that work outside of professional sports, could you tell us what is involved in your daily routine as head trainer for the Lakers?
MN: In short, my duties are to attend to all the medical needs of our athletes, this can be either basketball related or not. A daily routine consists of opening up the training room 2 hours before practice, whether at home or on the road, and treat our players. Additionally, my job entails monitoring the players physiological load along with their mechanical load as they are performing on the court. Finally, my job is to address post-practice and post-game recovery regiments.
SCSV: Seems like there are a lot of facets in terms of responsibilities. What are the most demanding parts of your role?
MN: Simply put, my number one priority is to make sure that every individual player is performing at the best of their ability. I think addressing the individual needs of my players is probably the most demanding part of my job.
SCSV: How important are technologies such as wearables, sensors, and data analytics as part of your job to help you prevent injuries or improve the player’s recovery time?
MN: VERY, one of my main priorities is to make sure that our athletes have access to the most updated technology.
SCSV: As an example, tell us what are the most innovative technologies that you have seen so far in world of sports performance?
MN: Sensors and tracking systems are something my department is focused on. Anything that can give us that data or edge to assess and improve performance.
SCSV: Speaking of improved technology, we are seeing the emergence of a new type of biosensor, wearables capable of measuring things like hydration, lactic acid, electrolytes in real time. What is your take on that noting companies like Kenzen can enable that today?
MN: I personally believe something like this is very important in our sports business. Like I mentioned earlier, making sure that we have the best and updated technology that can help our athletes perform at the best of their abilities is my number one priority. I welcome technology that allows us to improve. At the professional level of sports, we need this type of edge.
SCSV: What do you think about the NBA working on setting up a wearable committee to allow wearables to be used during live NBA games? How do you think will it change the game of basketball?
MN: I have mix feeling about this. This can go either way, it can help advance the NBA or it can actually hinder it. Sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen can slow down the process.
SCSV: With that in mind, David Stern the former NBA commissioner recently was quoted as saying: “I just picture that day when the assistant coach is in a locker room someplace or a war room sending messages directly to another assistant coach on the bench saying, ‘Uh, Player X, his hydration is lousy, his heartbeat is too high, his lactic acid is congealing, his blood pressure is high, and the facial recognition tells me that he’d love to be anyplace but the court right now, so it’d be a good idea for you to replace him,’” Having said that, in your opinion, how close do you think we are from his vision?
MN: I think within the next 5 years this can be a reality.
SCSV: Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. We really look forward to your participation at our Los Angeles sports and tech event on March 2nd.