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Denver Nuggets honor team doctor for 25 years of service

Dr. Steve Traina has helped numerous players continue NBA careers

Nuggets athletic trainer Jim Gillen (left) presents a plaque to Dr. Steve Traina for his 25 years of service as Denver's team doctor.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images

It took only a few seconds for 25 years of memories to come flooding back for Dr. Steve Traina.

From Andre Miller’s shoulder to Chris Andersen’s knees to Todd Lichti’s shattered foot, Traina remembered the numerous players he has helped recover from injury and resume their NBA career during his tenure as team doctor for the Denver Nuggets.

“I’ve had a great run with these guys,” Traina said. “It’s a passion.”

The Nuggets showed their appreciation for Traina’s excellent work and dedication since 1988, presenting him with a diamond-shaped glass plaque before Wednesday night’s game against the San Antonio Spurs.

“His reputation throughout the league and the country is outstanding, even though he never promotes himself,” Nuggets athletic trainer Jim Gillen said. “He doesn’t have to self-promote. He gets satisfaction from seeing the players get back on the court and be successful.”

Gillen was working as an athletic trainer at Overland High School when he first met Traina. His group, Orthopedic Associates, provided physicals for Overland athletes and provided on-call service at the school’s football games.

“He genuinely cares about players as individuals, not just athletes,” Gillen said.

Gillen later went to work with the Denver Broncos and received a strong recommendation from Traina when the Nuggets position opened in 1991.

The two men have worked closely ever since, with Traina performing medical procedures on prominent players such as Andersen (meniscus repair), LaPhonso Ellis (knee, Achilles') Anthony McDyess (patella tendon tear), Nene (ACL surgery) and J.R. Smith (meniscus repair).

“I was very surprised (to be honored) and very grateful,” Traina said after completing his usual post-game examinations in the Nuggets training room. “It kind of hit me that it’s been 25 years.

“I started thinking back to all the stories, the good times and the bad times. It’s been a fun run – great memories.”