Miami HEAT Team Physician on 7th NBA Finals: ‘It’s Super Exciting’

Baptist Health Orthopedic Care

The Miami HEAT has overcome tough opponents and even mightier odds to get to their seventh NBA Finals, becoming only the second team ever to make it to the championship as the eight seed in their conference. As the team battles the Denver Nuggets, no one knows the resiliency of the HEAT better than Harlan Selesnick, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, who is in his 35th year as the HEAT’s team doctor.

He's been through it all – seven finals and three NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013. As it has been throughout the playoffs, the HEAT are underdogs against the Nuggets. 

“It's super exciting,” said Dr. Selesnick. “Every finals appearance has been different. We're certainly underdogs. We've been underdogs the whole way. But the guys are very determined, very professional, very dedicated, and probably better than people give them credit for in basketball abilities. And they are very well coached. So, we still have a shot -- even though we're underdogs in the finals.”

The team’s mental toughness is a big factor in their success, a result of excellent coaching, said Dr. Selesnick, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist who draws many non-athletes to his practice. (The Miami HEAT Sports Medicine Center is located at Baptist Health Orthopedic Institute on the Baptist Health Doctors Hospital campus in Coral Gables.)

“They're still focused and I think that they're still going to be mentally tough,” he said. ”Denver probably hasn't played a team quite like the Heat yet. And I think people are going to be impressed with how focused the team is.”

Considering the challenges they’ve met during a long season and post-season, the HEAT are fortunate to be in relatively good physical shape, a result of proper training and conditioning that haven’t subsided, says Dr. Selesnick. The most serious injury came to guard Tyler Herro, who is rehabilitating his fractured hand and may return at some point during the NBA Finals.

“Everyone's banged up at this point in the season, playing some 90 games,” he said. “But we're in pretty good shape. We've had a great training staff getting guys ready or rehabbing from injuries. I don't know what Tyler's status will be during the finals. But speaking for everyone else, they should be playing and ready to go.”

While Dr. Selesnick is a veteran team doctor of the NBA Finals, some younger players tend to get caught up in the hype on both teams.

“It's much more of a spectacle for a lot of the young players on both teams that have not been here before,” he said. “There’s all the press, all the media, the videos, the interviews, and everything else that's asked of them. It's a little different than what they're used to. So, while doing all of that, keeping their focus is a very important part of it.”

Dr. Selesnick’s team of physicians also keeps their focus on making sure the players stay well-conditioned and, hopefully, injury-free.

“Physically, it's like going into any other game,” he explains. “They prepare by doing the same routines that they always do to get ready for the game, with the proper warmups, stretches, massages -- whatever it is for that individual player to decrease the risk of getting injured. And then go out and perform.”

Nonetheless, as well conditioned and disciplined as they are, HEAT players can always benefit from some old-fashioned luck.  The Heat’s seven appearances in the NBA Finals since 2006 are the most in the league during that time span.

“I'm super excited to be here. It doesn't get old. I've been very lucky to be in this position and I look forward to doing it again, but I would love to see us win this.”

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