Tim Walsh Earns Prestigious Recognition
Nathaniel S. Butler

Nets Training Staff, Led by Veteran Tim Walsh, Earns Prestigious Recognition

If Tim Walsh had his druthers, this story would have ended on Wednesday, February 4th, the day Brooklyn Nets advance scout Jim Sann was discharged from the hospital and returned home to his two children.

But earlier this week, Walsh was named the recipient of the 2014-15 Joe O'Toole Athletic Trainer of the Year for the second straight season. His assistants, Lloyd Beckett and Alessandro Oliveira, were named assistant trainers of the year.

So the story did not end that day, somewhat to the chagrin of Walsh, the Nets humble, veteran trainer, who prefers to do his job without attention and fanfare. Walsh, along with Beckett, Oliveira and team massage therapist John Rink, resuscitated Sann, 46, after he suffered a heart attack and collapsed at the Nets practice facility on February 1st. He had no pulse when the training staff reached Sann.

“I’m grateful that these guys knew exactly what to do, and were able to do it so quickly that there was no long-term damage,” Sann told the New York Post. “That was because those guys knew exactly what to do, they each had their responsibilities, and they did it really fast.

“People sometimes use the phrase ‘You saved my life’ pretty loosely sometimes, but those guys saved my life, because of how good they were. … I don’t know if they want me to be saying that or not, they’re pretty low-key guys, but the truth of the matter is I owe them everything.”

Walsh has now won this prestigious award three times. One of the criteria for winning is to have performed life-saving treatment in the course of his work. Walsh, who just completed his 16th season with the Nets, declines to discuss the other two lives he's saved on the job. To him they are private matters. To his fellow trainers, Walsh is one of the best of the best.

"There is no greater honor than to be recognized by your peers, so I take a great deal of pride in this award,'' Walsh told BrooklynNets.com. "But even more importantly, my two assistants, Lloyd and Ale, were also recognized for their contributions during the season.

"We had some very challenging situations this past year, and I am very proud that the work of my staff was duly noted by our fellow athletic trainers.''

'Challenging situations,' is an understatement. It was Walsh, working closely with team physician Dr. Michael Farber, who insisted that Mirza Teletovic return to the hospital in Los Angeles in late January for an additional CT scan, which found blood clots on the forward's lungs.

Teletovic had complained of shortness of breath. A routine exam found no irregularities. But when Teletovic had trouble breathing on the walk from the hospital back to the team hotel, Walsh and Farber weren't taking any chances. Had they not sent the 29-year-old forward for the additional scan, and the clots had gone undetected, Teletovic could have died. Instead, he was back on the court for the team's playoff series.

And then there were the 'normal' day-to-day challenges that trainers face:

Helping center Brook Lopez, who underwent two surgeries last summer - one on his right foot, the other on his left ankle - return to his All-Star level of play.

Getting point guard Deron Williams back on the court after he suffered a fractured rib cartilage.

Currently Walsh, along with Beckett and Oliveira, who completed their first season in Brooklyn, are working hard to help Sergey Karasev rehab from a serious knee injury that required surgery in mid March.

Those are the duties that come to mind when most of us consider the role of team trainers. In the Nets' case, their training staff also is in the business of saving lives.

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