The two most important components in building an NBA team are talent and trust, not necessarily in that order, and the Warriors had come to trust Chelsea Lane with their talent.
After three years on the job, NBC Sports Bay Area has confirmed that Lane is leaving to take an elevated position with the Atlanta Hawks, where ex-Warriors executive Travis Schlenk is the general manager.
Lane’s official title was head of physical performance and sports medicine. She was all of that and more. The players revered her because she was equal parts doctor, nurse, psychologist and comedienne. She treated both body and mind.
“She’s family,” Andre Iguodala told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday.
“She’s very positive and has got a great sense of humor,” Stephen Curry said during the NBA Finals. “I’d say topics of conversation in the training room go all over the place. She doesn’t have a huge basketball background; she’s not really talking about much of that. It’s more about what we’ve got to do to get right.”
Players trusted her. And in today’s high-stakes society, when trust is such a tenuous component -- see Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs or Isaiah Thomas and his former team in Boston -- that’s as pertinent as it is priceless.
Curry, the hub of most everything the Warriors do, trusted Lane with his delicate ankles. Iguodala trusted her with his high-maintenance knees. It was no different with Shaun Livingston and his legs and Kevon Looney with his hips. Coach Steve Kerr would not even consider a player available until informed by Lane.
“She’s been amazing, especially for me,” Curry said. “I’m just thinking about all I’ve been through this year with the ankle and the knee . . . just keeping me sane.”
Of the dozens of folks working behind the scenes to keep the Warriors humming and running, it’s conceivable none was more respected for their contributions. Lane always was cordial and but politely declined interviews.
“She’s always one step ahead, trying to anticipate what your move might be coming into the training room,” Curry said. “She’s got a great staff and they all step up to the task and sacrifice for us. We’ve got a good thing going in there.”
That good thing, should it continue, will be with a new face. Realizing Lane’s value, the Warriors will search the globe -- Lane came from New Zealand -- for someone capable of filling a substantial void. The task will be challenging.
The Athletic was first to report Lane's departure to the Hawks.