Memphis Grizzlies: Most successful coach in team history reveals cancer diagnosis

David Joerger, former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
David Joerger, former coach of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

Former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger announced this week that he is taking a leave of absence from his duties as assistant coach of the Philadelphia 76ers in light of being diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Joerger had noticed a lump in his throat nearly 15 months ago, according to the report from Wojnarowski. The coach noted the lump and kept an eye on it. Once he noticed it beginning to grow in size, he became concerned and notified his Memphis-area physician.

A scan completed five weeks ago, gave the 47-year-old assistant the news no one wants to hear: he’d been diagnosed with cancer.

Former Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger was one of the most successful coaches in franchise history

Thanks to the actions of his doctor, which happens to be located in Memphis, the coach says his outlook is very good.  “We have caught it early,” Joerger said in comments captured by 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.

Dave Joerger is the most successful coach in franchise history. Coaching the Memphis Grizzlies from 2014-2016, he accumulated a .598 winning percentage—the best of anyone to coach the team.

The next highest winning percentages are from Mike Fratello (.534) and Lionel Hollins (.516).

Joerger’s all-time record as head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies was 147-99. The coach guided the team to 22 playoff game appearances during his tenure and oversaw the waning years of the Grit-and-Grind era.

Everyone at Beale Street Bears wishes Coach Joerger a speedy and healthy recovery as he battles this terrible disease.

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