Assistant Dave Joerger leaving Sixers to have cancer treatment
Joerger wants to use his platform to continue to raise awareness and help supports the fight against cancer.
INDIANAPOLIS – Dave Joerger will leave the 76ers for several weeks to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment to combat a form of cancer in his head and neck.
The Sixers assistant coach has been undergoing treatment the past two weeks. But he’s stepping away from the team as it heads to the West Coast for the remaining five games of their six-game, 10-day road trip. The 47-year-old Joerger informed the Sixers players and staff of his cancer diagnosis following Saturday night’s 118-113 loss to the Indiana Pacers at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
He could be sidelined a month or two.
“Over the last few months, I learned the importance of self-evaluation and care, early detections and annual medical exams,” Joerger said in a statement. “I know I will beat this diagnosis with the help of my world-class medical team at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center - Jefferson Health, under the direction of Dr. David M.. Cognetti, Dr. Voichita Bar Ad, and Dr. Jennifer Johnson.”
He wants to use his platform to continue to raise awareness and support the fight against cancer.
“Dave, he’s one tough guy,” Sixers coach Doc Rivers said. “He’s been dealing with this almost three weeks, four weeks now. ... Now, [the chemo] is going to get to the tougher, heavy part. So he’s going to be out a while.”
Joerger agreed to join Rivers’ coaching staff with the Sixers back on Oct. 15, 2020. The hiring came after he interviewed for the Pacers’ head-coaching job. He had head-coaching stints with the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies, compiling a 245-247 record in six seasons.
In Philly, he runs the Sixers’ offense.
“It’s sad, it hurts,” Tyrese Maxey said after learning about Joerger’s diagnosis. “But his spirit is extremely high. When someone is going through something, but their spirit is high, it makes you believe in them and trust in them, and really have faith in them.”
Maxey immediately dropped his head when hearing the news. But Joerger, explaining that he’ll be fine, made the second-year point guard happy. Maxey then hugged the assistant and told the coach he’s praying for him.
Joerger informed Rivers around eight weeks ago about the diagnosis. He wanted to keep it between him, Rivers, and one other person.
“He’s going to beat it,” Rivers said. “He’s a tough dude. The team is behind him. We are going to do whatever we can to support him.
“You know the players were pretty emotional about it.”
Rivers, who was moved by the announcement, said the scene in the locker room was a tough one.
“First of all, you don’t want anyone to get cancer,” the coach said. “And you definitely don’t want someone you know and love and have an amazing relationship with [to have it.].”
Assistant coaches Jamie Young or Brian Adams will probably move to the bench during Joerger’s absence. Rivers said the coach who has done the scouting for a particular game will most likely sit on the bench.
Like Joerger, the Sixers want to use the cancer diagnosis to raise as much awareness as possible. They also want to raise a lot of money for cancer research and to help find a cure.
“All of us have been touched,” Rivers said. “I guarantee you everyone in this room has been touched somewhere by cancer. My dad passed with it. So it’s just a tough disease.
“Fortunately for Dave, he’s on top of his health. It was detected early. And, again, he’s going to be fine.”