Inside the Equipment Room
Loading Up For 2021-22
We all get to see the majesty that is the Purple and Gold Lakers uniforms on the NBA court … but behind the scenes, there’s a lot that goes into not just keeping the players outfitted from head to toe, but also moving an NBA team around the country.
To help explain, we enlisted the Lakers Head Equipment Manager, Andrew Henk.
Henk’s first season was the longest in NBA history, as he navigated the trip to China that tipped off the 2019-20 preseason, all the way through the team’s eventual championship in the Bubble a full calendar year later.
Entering his third campaign running the show, Henk relies on his assistant equipment manager, Brian Cuatt, who also travels full time, and fellow assistant equipment manager Chase Hennebry*. Additionally, Henk manages 10 team attendants.
*Hennebry took over for Brady Stuart, who transitioned over to Lakers Manager of Travel Operations.
Below are Henk’s descriptions of the photographs I took on my phone as we explored the UCLA Health Training Center during training camp:
The Shoe Wall. This is where we keep the shoes for the players, and the guys with the major shoe deals like LeBron, AD and Russ are going to have the biggest selections. I’ll try to put as much as I can in each players’ lockers at the practice facility and at STAPLES, and then I’ll keep the rest stored away in my office. Some of the players have specific shoes for every game, so that’s something I try to keep organized as well.
In our equipment room we have several rows of high-density mobile shelving filled with storage bins to help organize all the different types of gear we have. One of the units holds all of our different color practice tees. We supply sleeveless, short sleeve and long sleeve tees for our players and basketball ops staff.
Nike offers a variety of sweats for NBA teams to choose from. We have a practice sweatsuit, a sweatsuit for coaches, a sweatsuit for travel, a heavyweight sweatsuit, a crew neck sweatshirt and a sleeveless hoodie.
This picture shows a very small glimpse of the variety of compressions that we supply for our team. We have compression shorts, three-quarter tights, full tights, padded compression shorts, tank tops and padded tank tops. We also have shooting sleeves, elbow-padded shooting sleeves and two different types of headbands. Then you add in all the socks: three different lengths (mid, crew, OTC), two different thicknesses (quick and power), three different sizes (L, XL, 2XL). When you multiply all of that by the different colors that we have, it’s a lot of stuff to organize and carry around the country.
We keep extra boxes of everything stored outside of our practice facility. Whenever our bins start to run low we restock with that specific item. Keeping these storage containers organized is a daily task.
Our equipment truck stores all of the bags and cases that we carry on the road for the entire season. We’ll load all of what we need onto the team plane at LAX. This not only includes all uniforms, shoes, and gear, but also all medical supplies, strength and conditioning equipment, and video/film equipment.
That was the day we received luggage for players and staff. I order these once roster and staff are finalized and have everyone’s initials printed on them. When we get to a hotel in a city, we tag the bags with everyone’s room numbers and have the bellmen deliver the bags to the rooms.
This is inside our laundry room at UHTC. We have a variety of soap, shampoo, deodorant, lotion, razors, toothbrushes etc. available for both the players and coaches locker rooms. Our equipment staff checks the sink and shower areas on a daily basis to make sure everything is fully stocked.
We spend a lot of time using these two washers and driers. We wash the uniforms, warm-ups and everything the players wear in a game. We wash the players and coaches practice gear and all of the court towels and shower towels and wash cloths. We fold/roll everything back up and put where they need to be.
I’ll bring at least two pairs of shoes for each player to every home and road game (sometimes more depending on the length of the road trip or the number of different uniform combinations we might be wearing). We use these OGIO shoe bags to help organize the shoes. Some players wear new shoes each game, while some might even change shoes at halftime. Some players also have specific shoe schedules created by the company that they signed a deal with. It’s a lot to keep up with, so I’m having daily conversations with players about what shoes they are planning to wear for upcoming games.
This is a chunk of the variety of Nike Lakers gear that we supply for our players and staff. We have everything from socks and tights, to shorts and shirts, to sweats and hoodies, to half-zips and polos, etc.
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