A ‘Typical Day’ for Harlan Selesnick, M.D., Who’s in His 35th Year as Miami HEAT Team Physician

Baptist Health Orthopedic Care

A day in the life of the NBA’s longest tenured team physician starts early in the morning, especially on a Miami HEAT game day at Miami-Dade Arena, where Harlan Selesnick, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, is in his 35th year as the HEAT’s team doctor.

“People want to know what a typical day for me is … and it usually starts early in the morning by 7, 7:15 a.m.,” he said. “We don't just cover the home team. We cover the visiting team. We cover the officials. And they like us here at least an hour and a half before game time in case any of those individuals need to be seen.”

(Watch Video: Hear from Harlan Selesnick, M.D., orthopedic surgeon at Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, about a typical day as the Miami Heat’s team physician. Video by Steve Pipho.)

Dr. Selesnick’s fame as an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist draws many non-athletes to his practice. (The Miami HEAT Sports Medicine Center is located on the Baptist Health Doctors Hospital campus in Coral Gables.)

Many of his non-HEAT patients are active “weekend warriors” who have heard of — or are very familiar with — his work, in addition to a range of professional athletes who need orthopedic care.

Tending to injuries during a HEAT game amounts to on-the-spot orthopedic care, a specialty he has taken to new levels. 

“During the game, obviously we cover any injuries that occur. And after the game, we'll evaluate anybody that has a problem before they leave the arena,” explains Dr. Selensick. “The most common injuries we see in basketball are jammed fingers and sprained ankles. The more serious injuries may be knee injuries, like ligament tears in the ACL, MCL.”

Unfortunately, ligament tears are common in both athletes and anyone who is very active. The ACL, or anterior cruciate ligament, is often injured when athletes who participate in cutting and pivoting sports like soccer, football, and basketball. Injuries to the MCL, or medial collateral ligament, are usually caused by a direct blow to the outside of the knee.

“These injuries we see in the pro athletes are injuries that we see in recreational athletes too, kids in school,” say Dr. Selesnick. “And we try at our clinic at Baptist Health to treat everybody the same way that we treat our pro athletes.”

Dr. Selesnick says he is often asked about his fondest memories over the years as HEAT team physician. And there are plenty of memories to choose from, including three NBA championships;  featured games between the HEAT and the Los Angeles Clippers played in Beijing, China in 2012; and regular season games hosted by London and Paris as the popularity of the NBA continues to grow throughout Europe.

“There's a number of really great memories -- from traveling to China to be with the team or Paris and London – and being part of three championships,” recalls Dr. Selesnick. “But the most exciting memory was when we won our first championship (2006) in Dallas -- and celebrating on the court afterward with my wife and at least one of my daughters. It was just a magical night.”

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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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