Philadelphia 76ers assistant coach Dave Joerger announced Saturday night that he’s stepping away from the team for several weeks to undergo cancer treatment.
Joerger, 47, told ESPN he has a form of “head and neck” cancer that is in Stage 1, and he’s already been receiving treatment. Joerger initially noticed a lump in his throat roughly 15 months ago and notified his physician. Joerger continued to monitor the lump and reached out to his doctor five weeks ago over concerns that it was still the same size.
“We have caught it early,” Joerger told ESPN. “I’m very lucky. I’ve got over a 90% chance of cure rate, but it’s very scary and it’s not enjoyable going through. …I can’t go on the road and do radiation and chemotherapy in different cities around the country. To continue my treatment, I need to step away from the team.”
Sixers coach Doc Rivers praised Joerger in a statement as “not only one of the most talented and respected coaches in the NBA, but he’s a great friend, colleague, husband and father.”
76ers guard Danny Green also reacted to the news Saturday on Twitter with three broken-heart emojis.
“One of the greatest ppl I’ve come across and he will win this battle Bc he’s a warrior…many prayers out to coach Joerger and his family,” Green wrote.
Joerger was the head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies for three seasons from 2013-16, leading them to the playoffs each time. He was fired in 2016 after the Grizzlies were swept in the first round by the San Antonio Spurs but was quickly hired as the Sacramento Kings’ head coach.
The Kings fired later fired Joerger in 2019 after three seasons, in which they didn’t make the playoffs. He joined the 76ers’ staff under Rivers before the start of the 2020-21 season.