Jan 29, 2015
Jazz Athletic Trainer Hit With a T

Athletic trainers are usually known for making their presence felt in a positive way when reacting to on-court injuries. Recently, though, longtime Utah Jazz Athletic Trainer Gary Briggs found himself on the wrong side of an official’s whistle when he received a technical foul for going on the court to help a player without the referee’s permission.

The incident occurred on Dec. 1, when Utah was hosting the Denver Nuggets. During the fourth quarter, Nuggets guard Aaron Afflalo committed what was deemed a flagrant foul when he clotheslined Alec Burks while the Jazz guard was driving to the basket. In the aftermath, players from both teams did a little pushing and shoving after the whistle had blown. Meanwhile, Briggs rushed out on the floor to check on Burks, who’d fallen hard to the floor.

However, NBA rules state that if there has been no timeout and the contest has not been officially stopped, team coaches, players, and other personnel may not enter the the court without risking a technical foul. The rule was designed to deescalate altercations. Interpreting the rule as it was written, the referee hit Briggs, who has been an NBA athletic trainer for over 30 years and was the 1999 NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year, with a T.

Thankfully, two days later, realizing the absurdity of the call, the NBA rescinded Briggs’ technical. Here’s hoping that decision is followed up with a few conversations with league referees better defining the spirit of the rule. After all, nobody wants to see athletic trainers hesitate when responding to potential injuries because they fear they’ll hurt the team by possibly getting hit with a technical foul.

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