Suns News

Nelson Named NBATA Athletic Trainer of the Year

Posted: Sept. 18, 2009

PHOENIX - The National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association (NBATA) announced the Phoenix Suns very own Aaron Nelson as the 2008-2009 Joe O’Toole NBA Athletic Trainer of the Year. This honor is bestowed on Nelson by his fellow NBATA members because of his accomplishments in injury prevention and the effective rehabilitation of Suns players throughout the season. The award is named in honor of Joe O'Toole, former athletic trainer of the Atlanta Hawks and catalyst for the formation of the NBATA.

“Aaron has shown immense dedication to the league and the safety and health of its players,” said Wally Blasé, NBATA chairman. “For well over a decade he has used his education and experiences to not only advance the skills of players on the court, but to help improve the abilities of the trainers around him.”

The Phoenix Suns this season enter their 42nd season of play in the National Basketball Association. One of the most successful franchises in league history, the Suns own the NBA's fourth-highest all-time winning percentage. A member of the organization since 1993, Aaron Nelson is in his 10th season as only the second head athletic trainer in franchise history after replacing Suns Ring of Honor member Joe Proski in 2000.

“Aaron has done a terrific job for the Suns’ organization over the years, and we’re thrilled that he is receiving this honor,” said Steve Kerr, Suns President of Basketball Operations and General Manager. “It is well deserved—he’s one of the best athletic trainers in the NBA.”

The training techniques used by Nelson and his team are part of the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s (NASM) Corrective Exercise and Optimum Performance Training (OPT) models. Designed to not only look at what’s wrong with an athlete, these models ask “why is it injured?” The OPT-based training program is safe, progressive and personalized to meet each player’s needs and specific goals.

“Working alongside Aaron and his skilled athletic training team has been a pleasure,” said Dr. Micheal Clark, NASM chief executive officer and Phoenix Suns head physical therapist. “His professionalism and effectiveness in working with the players makes him an excellent choice to receive this honor.”

Nelson will be formally recognized next year in a ceremony preceding the Atlanta Hawks vs. Phoenix Suns game on February 19, 2010. In the mean time a duplicate of the award has been sent to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, where it will be on display throughout the 2009-2010 season in the NBATA hall of fame section.

The 2008-2009 season commemorates Nelson’s 15th Season with the Phoenix Suns, his tenth as the organization’s head athletic trainer. Prior to the NBA, Nelson was a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Arizona State University. Well equipped to provide athletic healthcare, Nelson earned certification credentials from multiple certifying agencies and serves on the performance advisory board of NASM.