Pacers Only Now Discover Their Starting Center Has Asthma

Professional sports teams, in theory, employ the very best trainers and doctors in the world. Their entire purpose is to help ensure their athletes are in peak physical condition to properly perform their jobs. Somehow, for some reason, there are times where they take forever to make a key diagnosis.

That happened again this summer with the Indiana Pacers. The team is counting heavily on Roy Hibbert, their third-year center that's supposed to be one of their young franchise cornerstones. And yet, according to Jeff Rabjohns of the Indianapolis Star, they didn't realize that Hibbert had asthma until this summer.

Hibbert entered training camp weighing 255 pounds, 23 fewer than he carried last season on his 7-2 frame. He also discovered and corrected a previously undetected asthma problem that affected his stamina.    

[...]

Hibbert now uses an inhaler in the morning and evening to control athlete-induced asthma. The condition was diagnosed after he routinely felt winded after a short stretch of playing time.

"It should lengthen the period of time I can be on the court," he said.

This isn't the first time an NBA team has been slow to identify a player with athletic asthma. The Washington Wizards took over a year and a half themselves to notice that JaVale McGee had to be treated for the condition. Prior to the diagnosis, McGee simply believed he was out of shape. Now, Hibbert, the guy picked one spot before McGee, apparently has the same issue. It's pretty incredible that it took so long for both players to be diagnosed with the condition.

Granted, athletic asthma is often hard to discover. Neither McGee nor Hibbert has the kind of asthma where attacks can be induced simply by walking. It's only when they start to exercise for a couple minutes where they feel a bit more winded than usual. Still, you'd think that somewhere along the line, whether it's during their high school, college or professional careers, someone would think to at least check if they have the condition. Hibbert went to Georgetown for four years, and despite his skills, was usually only reliable for 20-25 minutes a game. That can't simply be an issue of conditioning, right?

It makes you wonder whether there are more players in the NBA who have some form of athletic asthma that just hasn't been diagnosed. It'll certainly be interesting to see if Hibbert and McGee make huge leaps this season now that they have their athletic asthma under control. If so, maybe more teams will start to take a closer look at some of their out-of-shape players. 

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