Former Memphis and Sacramento head coach, and current assistant with the 76ers, Dave Joerger is leaving the team for a couple of weeks to undergo chemotherapy and other treatments for what he described as head and neck cancer, the coach told Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
He told the team after a loss to the Pacers on Saturday (before that, only a couple members of the Philly front office, including GM Daryl Morey, were aware)
“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.”
Joerger said he noticed a lump about 15 months ago and had it tested, but those tests came back negative. After not dealing with the issue but it not going away, he got tested again. For the past couple of weeks he has been getting treatment while continuing to work (missing one game) but said he needed to step away for a while.
Part of Joerger’s decision to make his cancer diagnosis public is the chance to encourage people to pursue early detection — including regular examinations and alerting doctors immediately like he did when something seemed wrong with his body. “You’ve got to take action,” Joerger said.
Joerger is considered a strong Xs and Os coach and one of the better offensive minds in the game. Other coaches respected him and when asked about the toughest coaches to go up against his name often came up. After he was let go in Sacramento a couple of years ago, Doc Rivers brought him onto his Philadelphia staff.
Our thoughts are with Joerger, and we all look forward to seeing him back on the sidelines soon.