The Philadelphia 76ers’ main assistant, Dave Joerger, leaves to undergo cancer treatment

The Philadelphia 76ers ’assistant head coach, Dave Joerger, is leaving the team for several weeks to undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapies for a form of“ head and neck ”cancer, Joerger told ESPN.

Joerger, 47, has undergone treatments during training for the past two weeks – missing just one road game – but the Sixers ’extended road trip requires him to leave and stay back for treatments in Philadelphia, he said.

Joerger told the Sixers players, assistant coaches and staff about his cancer in a post-game meeting after Saturday night’s loss to the Pacers in Indiana. He has already told a small group of Sixers officials – including coach Doc Rivers, Basketball Operations President Daryl Morey and owner Josh Harris – about his recent diagnoses.

“Dave is not only one of the most talented and respected coaches in the NBA, but he is a great friend, colleague, husband and father,” Rivers said in a statement. “The same positivity, enthusiasm and grit that made him a successful coach will also carry him through his fight against cancer.”

Joerger, who says he has Stage 1 cancer, described his prediction ahead of Saturday’s game on ESPN’s “The Woj Pod” podcast.

“We caught it early,” Joerger told ESPN. “I’m very lucky. I have more than a 90 percent chance of recovery, but it’s very scary and I don’t like to go through … I can’t go on the road and do radiation and chemotherapy in different cities. Across the country. For to continue my treatment, I have to step away from the team. “

Joerger noticed a lump in his throat about 15 months ago and alerted his Memphis doctor. After scanning returned negative, he continued to monitor the ball and worried that it would not shrink. Five weeks ago, he called his doctor with renewed concerns.

“I look 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’re doing another scan, and it’s one of those days 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 do it right now. “

Part of Joerger’s decision to publish his cancer diagnosis is the opportunity to encourage people to seek early detection – including regular exams and alerting doctors as soon as he did when something seemed wrong in his body. “You have to act,” Joerger said.

Joerger has built a reputation as one of the league’s most innovative offensive tacticians in his time as an assistant and head coach. Joerger reached the Western Conference finals in each of his three seasons as the Memphis Grizzlies head coach, including a trip to the Western Conference semifinals in 2015. He left Memphis to become the Sacramento Kings head coach in 2016, where he coached three more seasons.

He was 245-247 (.498) overall as head coach and 9-13 (.409) in the playoffs. Prior to reaching the NBA as an assistant in Memphis in 2007, Joerger worked through basketball’s minor league leagues – including two now defunct leagues, the Continental Basketball Association and United States Basketball League.

Joerger credited Rivers and the Sixers organization for supporting him since the diagnosis and pushing him to take all the time he needs away from the team. “The first two weeks of radiation aren’t terrible,” Joerger told ESPN. “What’s going to happen, in a total of seven weeks of treatment, it’s still coming together on its own … You can hear me now – I don’t sound great.

“But it will only get worse [my] ability to swallow, [my] ability to speak [my] ability to store food. It was nice to come to work, but sometimes it can be a little stressful. “

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