Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
For anyone sitting on the bench, they hope to see the least amount of action during a game, but when they are needed, athletic trainers provide medical treatment for an array of possible injuries.
Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations/Head Athletic Trainer Keith Jones has been the Houston Rockets athletic trainer for a full 17 seasons. Jones worked previously for the Los Angeles Clippers beginning in 1990. At the time, Jones became the first African-American NBA trainer as well as the youngest at age 28. The San Antonio native was the Clippers head trainer after only one season as an assistant trainer with the Orlando Magic.
Rockets trainer restrains head coach Kevin McHale during a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. (January 2013)
Keith Jones began working as a trainer his sophomore year in high school and said he has not wanted to do anything else since he first started. While a student at the University of Arkansas, Jones was a student trainer for football and basketball during the eras of Lou Holtz and Eddie Sutton, respectively. He worked again with Holtz on the Philadelphia Eagles in 1987 before making his move to the NBA. Jones was voted NBA Trainer of the Year in 2001, an honor bestowed on him by his fellow trainers in the league. Since then he as trained for USA Basketball’s Senior National Team as well as the US Olympic team.
In addition to traditional trainer duties of treating players for injuries and keeping them healthy, Jones is involved in player relations and operational matters as Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations, a position he has held for the past five seasons. Throughout his time in Houston, Jones has developed relationships with several stars on the court, including current Rockets’ mentors Hakeem Olajuwon and Yao Ming.
At Jones’ right hand side is Rockets’ Director of Performance Rehabilitation/Associate Athletic Trainer Jason Biles. The University of North Florida alum has been a trainer in Houston for three seasons. Biles worked previously as the strength and conditioning coach for the Memphis Grizzlies, and has also been the physical therapist for professional tennis players, athletes training for the NFL combine, and draftees at the NBA Pre-Draft Camp.
With trainers Keith Jones and Jason Biles courtside, the Rockets are in great hands.