Despite all the change in the Pistons organization over the years -- really, the last 20-plus years since Chuck Daly -- Mike Abdenour and Arnie Kander have been constants. Kander was hired as a physical therapist in 1992 and has long been credited with keeping players fresh and preventing injuries. Abdenour, one of the game's most respected trainers, has been with the organization since 1975.
On Thursday, the Pistons announced some more of Stan Van Gundy's staff -- Quentin Richardson was named Director of Player Development; Tim Hardaway Sr. and Malik Allen were hired as assistant coaches; and John Nix will be assistant General Manager.
At the bottom of the official press release announcing those hirings, including two others we've since touched on, was just a quick-but-important update on the status of Abdenour and Kander:
The club also announced that Arnie Kander will remain as the team's physical therapist, overseeing injury prevention and recovery, while Mike Abdenour will serve in a newly created administrative role as Director of Team Operations.
Keith Langlois' latest for the Pistons has more, including Stan Van Gundy's praise for the two:
[Van Gundy] rapidly came to value and admire the contributions of longtime Pistons employees Arnie Kander and Mike Abdenour. Their titles - strength and conditioning coach for Kander, trainer for Abdenour - barely hinted at the breadth of their contributions. That now changes.
"We've restructured the medical area so that Arnie won't be stretched as thin," Van Gundy said. "He can concentrate on his a role as a therapist. We've moved Mike into an administrative role. ...
Kander will focus on helping players recover from injuries and spend more time studying their movements to increase efficiency that can help in the prevention of injuries. He's done a deep dive this summer into the running patterns of two groups - one Mexican, one Native American - of what he considers the world's greatest runners, for instance, and how stride patterns change in going from jogging to sprinting and vice versa.
"Arnie takes on the physical therapist role," Van Gundy said. "Not only in getting people back, but in making biomechanical assessments of guys and moving us forward preventively. I think it fits together well. It gives us two guys devoting all their time to the health care of our players. It gives us a strength coach devoting all of his time to getting our guys stronger and in better shape. And it gives Mike the time to devote all of his day to making all these things work better."
Abdenour's province as director of team operations is to make sure all of the organization's logistical needs are met with as little disruption or inconvenience to players and staff as possible. It's what he's done remarkably well, in addition to his duties as trainer, for years - there's not a hotel general manager or concierge in the NBA's 28 cities whose name isn't in his directory - and it's not a role Van Gundy takes lightly. The last thing a coach wants is a bus not showing up on time after a 3 a.m. airport arrival or finding out there's no practice gym available on an off-day on the road.
"For me as a head coach, the two most important positions are guys who do what Mike is going to do and the video people, because the video people - if they do their job really well - save you a lot of time in terms of your preparation as a head coach. A guy like Mike, doing what he does, you don't have to think about any of those things. You show up every night and we're ready to go. Those things are invaluable. I know not everybody sees it that way, but to me they translate into wins and losses because you're saving so much time and mental energy. It's a stressful job and those guys take the stress out so you can keep your mind on what we need to do."
I, for one, am really glad these two familiar faces will still be around.
Now your thoughts.