Philadelphia 76ers lead assistant coach Dave Joerger will take a leave for team activities in several weeks, as he will have chemotherapy and radiation treatments to address his “head and neck” cancer.
Joerger told ESPN that he underwent several procedures while coaching for the past few weeks, missing only one road match. The Sixers’ current lengthy five game-road trip convinced him to stay in Philadelphia and be committed to his healing process.
On Saturday night’s post-game against the Indiana Pacers, Joerger addressed his health concern amongst Sixers players, fellow assistants, and other staff. Prior to the announcement, some notable members of the team, like head coach Doc Rivers, general manager Daryl Morey and owner Josh Harris already knew the diagnoses that Joerger is taking.
Joerger, who claimed that he has Stage 1 cancer, talked to Adrian Wojnarowski in ESPN’s “The Woj Pod” podcast and said he is scared of his current condition and it needs to be treated in accordance with stepping away temporarily from the team.
“We have caught it early,” Joerger told ESPN. “I’m very lucky. I’ve got over a 90 percent chance of cure rate, but it’s very scary and it’s not enjoyable going through. …I can’t go on the road and do radiation and chemotherapy in different cities around the country. To continue my treatment, I need to step away from the team.”
Joerger also said he wants to encourage people to have early detection about their peculiar conditions, and hopes that this action he made will serve its purpose. Joerger noticed a lump 15 months ago and noted its appearance since then with his Memphis-based physician.
“I stare at my face every morning when I shave and I’m very sensitive … that I know that [the lump’s] there,” Joerger told ESPN. “…We do another scan, and it’s one of those days that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. We were in Toronto, and he texted me and said: ‘We need to talk. Let’s just get it done right now.'”
Joerger is a notable offensive strategist, amassing a 245-247 (.498) season record as a former head coach of Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings, while having a 9-13 (.409) card in the playoffs in the last decade.
The Sixers will try to bounce back after a 118-113 loss to the Pacers and will meet the Utah Jazz on Tuesday to continue their away trip.