Quick: Blazers Part Ways With Longtime Trainer Jay Jensen

Christian Petersen

The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly parted ways with longtime trainer Jay Jensen.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian reports on Twitter that the Portland Trail Blazers have parted ways with longtime athletic trainer Jay Jensen.

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Blazers GM Neil Olshey: "We thank Jay (Jensen) for his 19 years of service with the team and wish him well in his future endeavors.''

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Update: Here's Quick's full story.

"We had some good times and some bad times,'' said Jensen, who joined the Blazers in 1994. "I feel bad for some of the things that happened to some of our players, but I don't take responsibility for them. I feel everybody's frustration. I was frustrated, too. But I know our evaluation process was correct, and I know we did right by the players. I cared about them and loved them, and I still do. I enjoyed my time, and I wish them success.''

Jensen joined the Blazers in 1994. Here's his NBA.com profile.

Before joining the Blazers staff at the start of the 1994-95 season, Jensen spent five years as the head trainer of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Previously, he served two years as head basketball trainer at the University of Southern California and also worked for five years as the assistant trainer with the Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League. He served as trainer for the Western Conference team at the 1994 NBA All-Star Game. [Jensen also served as trainer at the 2012 All-Star Game.]

Jensen holds bachelor's degrees in physical education and physical therapy from Loma Linda University in California and has earned credits toward a master's degree in sports medicine from Chapman College in Orange, California.

Jensen, the Blazers' training staff and the organization's medical decision-making repeatedly came under fire when guard Brandon Roy and center Greg Oden -- among other players -- underwent a series of major injuries in recent years.

Jensen gave his account of how Oden suffered multiple non-contact injuries that led to microfracture surgeries and said that he constantly reevaluated what he was doing as the injuries and surgeries mounted up.

Portland Trail Blazers Trainer Jay Jensen's response when asked whether the rash of injuries causes him to reevaluate what he is doing....
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"Oh, absolutely. Are you kidding me? Every time something happens with any player, coach, I mean, yeah. Are you kidding me? I'm human. We develop these guys, they're like our family.

"Schonz will tell you. We're with these guys, each other, seven months out of the year, every single day pretty much. 24 hours a day, seven days a week we're on call for these guys. For anything that they need. For any kind of medical emergency. A lot of time the trainer is the one who hears about stuff going on at home, whatever. We develop a relationship with them. It's personal. Joel [Przybilla], you live and die with these guys, they're like your own kids. That's exactly the way you feel about it. Every single one of them.

"So, yeah, we ask ourselves all the time, when we're sitting, Geoff Clark and me, Dr. Roberts and I, Dr. Ries, we're sitting before a game in the office or flying, is there anything that we could be doing that we're not doing? Is there anything that we're missing?

Former Blazers coach Nate McMillan defended Jensen in an article by Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune.

"I don't blame any of it on the medical staff," he says. "They had absolutely nothing to do with it. Neither did my coaching or how we were training (the players). "It was just a series of unfortunate situations. Like with Greg, where we didn't have an opportunity to oversee this last year because of the lockout. He had a setback, but that wasn't on our medical staff. It wasn't Jay (Jensen, the trainer) or our strength and conditioning guys."

Mark Titus of Grantland.com wrote that Oden would not blame Portland's medical staff for his injuries.

Although Greg never took my bait and blamed the Blazers for his premature return, it's impossible not to wonder if Portland's medical staff contributed to any of the problems Greg endured during his injury-plagued career. This isn't to say Greg never would've gotten hurt had he played somewhere else, but Portland's medical staff has long been rumored to be less than stellar. At any rate, nobody can deny that Greg genuinely felt pressured - either by the Blazers, their doctors, his own guilt, or all three - to return to the court before his body was ready. That's why he claims he wasn't surprised that he needed a second microfracture surgery. That's why he responded to the news by shrugging his shoulders and saying "OK" as if he had just been told by a McDonald's employee that the McFlurry machine wasn't working.

Oden also praised Jensen in a 2010 story written by Brian T. Smith of The Columbian.

"Jay is a great guy," Oden said. "He has a lot on his plate, but he handles it well. And he makes sure all of us are all taken care of."

Quick painted this memorable scene of Jensen welcoming free agent Hedo Turkoglu to Portland at the airport in 2009.

While general manager Kevin Pritchard exchanged hand shakes and made introductions to his management team, athletic trainer Jay Jensen sheepishly held up the "Hedo - Welcome" sign, which was complete with two Turkish versions of "welcome." And as Jensen and Turkoglu left the airport en route to a physical, it was to the sounds of Turkish techno music, supposedly Turkoglu's favorite.

Sports kinesiologist Zig Ziegler, who later pleaded guilty to lesser charges after the State of Arizona levied criminal charges at him in response to financial dealings by his company, detailed his brief work with Oden in an interview with Blazersedge in April 2012 and suggested that Jensen was not following his recommendations.

The tests revealed, in Ziegler's opinion, that a particular series of strength-building exercises were needed before Oden should return to the court. He passed along those findings to Portland's staff during a dinner meeting and phone conversations. In those exchanges, Ziegler characterized Blazers trainer Jay Jensen as "defensive" and worried that perhaps his job was on the line because of the results of the initial test.

"In the initial telephone conversation with Jay, one of the things he said was, 'Am I in jeopardy?' Tom reiterated to him that he wasn't. Tom's goal was to make sure the athlete was really ready... Jay was defensive. His comment was, 'I'm doing most of what's on this list already.'"

Ziegler said that he responded by telling Jensen that he "was sure" Oden was already doing the exercises and repetitions -- and perhaps more -- but that he wanted the Blazers to focus on Oden's technique and attention to detail during the exercises because a failure to execute them properly would not produce the necessary improvements in muscle strength.

"I said to Jay, 'All I want you to do is spend a little more time and attention to detail on how he's doing the exercise and explain to him the importance of doing the exercise correctly as opposed to achieving the number of repetitions.' At that point, Jay said that he understood and he would begin to do that."

Ziegler, though, says now that he wasn't convinced at the time that his advice would be followed.

"With all due respect, and I know you record these [interviews]," he said. "You've got your assistant GM sitting on the phone and they just spent a few thousand dollars to get a test done on your athlete... You're pretty much going to say what you're supposed to say at that point, with all due respect to Jay."

Former Blazers president Larry Miller defended his organization's medical staff after Ziegler's comments.

I want to make it clear that we are 100 percent in support of our medical and training staff. We know we have one of the best medical and training staffs anywhere, not just in the NBA but in all of sports.

"It's really a travesty that some of these media folks would pick up on something that had no substance to it and a source who was really questionable and run with that. I want to make it clear that we are 100 percent in support of Jay [Jensen], Dr. Roberts, Dr. Reis, Bobby [Medina], the entire staff, we are in 100 percent support of those guys.

Former Blazers interim GM Chad Buchanan also backed Jensen in 2012.

"Jay and our doctors are not out there publicizing the efforts they are making. That's not what we're about. That doesn't need to be put out there. The privacy issue with our athletes is important to us. The integrity of that is important to Jay and all of us. Those guys are constantly, the contacts they have out there nationally and in the world, different specialists treating different parts of the body, looking for new ways to treat injuries. It's an ongoing thing with our staff and we encourage that and Jay is terrific at searching out those people.

"In past years, we've had some injuries that we've battled through but this year has been one of the healthiest seasons we've had in a long time. When you look at the rotation players on each team we've had the fewest number of games missed of any team in the league. I think Jay has done an outstanding job."

Longtime Blazers assistant coach Kaleb Canales left the organization to take an assistant coaching position with the Dallas Mavericks last week.

The Blazers also lost Idaho Stampede assistant coach Barry Rohrssen to the University of Pittsburgh last week.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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