Earlier this week the Chicago Bulls announced that Jen Swanson would become the team’s new Director of Sports Performance. Swanson will now be in charge of the sports medicine department which will include responsibilities of overseeing the athletic training staff, sports performance staff, massage therapy, chiropractic care and other units which revolve around rehabilitation. Swanson explained that amongst her biggest focuses on the new job will include injury prevention, recovery and performance enhancement.
Believe it or not, Swanson may be the Bulls’ biggest addition that they have made this offseason. The Bulls have made the playoffs each of the past three seasons, and in 2011 they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference finals. However, each of the past two seasons Chicago has found themselves shorthanded during the playoffs. In 2012 they lost both Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah to injuries in the first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers and were defeated by Philadelphia in six games. Last season not only did Derrick Rose miss the entire regular and postseason, but Joakim Noah entered the playoffs on a minutes restriction due to a troublesome case of plantar fasciitis. Thus, even before the playoffs had started Chicago was already shorthanded and their problems only worsened as the playoffs progressed.
Although Chicago was able to beat the Brooklyn Nets and advance to the second round of the playoffs, the Bulls suffered two more devastating injuries during the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls lost two key starters as both Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich were forced to miss the entire series against the Miami Heat due to injuries. Deng was hospitalized after suffering from a rare illness and Hinrich missed time after he ruptured his calf in game four of the first round series against Brooklyn.
Needless to say, Chicago has had a very difficult time staying injury free, especially when it matters most during the playoffs. By the Bulls making Jen Swanson the team’s Director of Sports Performance they are committing to making staying healthy one of their top priorities this season. It is good news for the Bulls and their fans that the organization has taken note of one of their biggest problems over the past few seasons and are doing their best to fix it. Hopefully Swanson will be successful in her first year as Director of Sports Performance for the Bulls and will help them monitor injuries and do their best to remain healthy throughout the course of the season.
Jon Keller is a writer for rantsports.com. Follow him on twitter @jkell2005