The Los Angeles Lakers have seen plenty of roster turnover this summer, but their training staff is also getting an overhaul. The team announced that Marco Nunez would take over for the retiring Gary Vitti as the team’s head athletic trainer, and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report reported on Tuesday that the team had made another addition to their staff.
According to Ding, the Lakers “have hired Jen Swanson, former Bulls director of sports performance, to fill vacancy left by departing physical therapist Judy Seto.” Swanson was let go by the Chicago Bulls this summer after spending nearly three years with the organization.
The Bulls hired Swanson in 2013 after she assisted with point guard Derrick Rose’s rehabilitation from knee surgery, and her responsibilities were outlined as “implement[ing] a training program that focuses on and targets the needs of each individual player as opposed to a broad program for the entire team.”
“The training program will consist of a basketball and athlete specific prescription, integrating rehabilitation, performance training, skill development, nutrition and recovery into a customized individual plan to help athletes reach their peak performance,” Forman explained.
“Jen will be responsible for overseeing the athletic training and strength and conditioning departments, as well as massage therapy, chiropractic care, nutritional support, and any related auxiliary services,” Forman continued. “In addition to this, she will work to streamline communication with doctors, agents, and skill coaches to provide an optimal training environment for our athletes to succeed.”
Swanson might be familiar to NBA die-hards, as her name was often involved in the reports of discord within the Bulls organization after the team fired former head coach Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau and Swanson reportedly disagreed over his usage of Bulls players, with the now Minnesota Timberwolves head coach attributing Swanson’s restrictions to the whims of Bulls management:
The obvious was taking control of the minutes and placing restrictions on certain players from participating in certain drills, using director of sports performance, Jen Swanson, as the messenger for all of those edicts.
The relationship between Swanson and Thibodeau had completely deteriorated over the summer anyway, when Thibodeau and the rest of the Team USA coaching staff felt she was dishonest about the handling of Derrick Rose in preparation for the FIBA World Cup.
Swanson, who worked with Rose at the Athletes’ Performance in Los Angeles during his May 2012 surgery to repair his torn left anterior cruciate ligament and was hired by the Bulls the following summer, was asked to be interviewed for the story, but the request was denied.
Swanson’s diverse skills certainly sound impressive, and it’s hard to know how reliable any of the information coming out of the Thibodeau/Bulls mudslinging was. It seems at least worth noting, and it will be interesting to see what types of changes she brings to the Lakers’ training staff.
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