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Sixers hire FC Barcelona’s Dr. Daniel Medina as Vice President of Athlete Care

A big new hire for the franchise.

FC Barcelona v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

In an effort to revamp their medical department, the Sixers have hired Dr. Daniel Medina, who previously worked as the Deputy Director of Sports Science and Medical for European soccer powerhouse FC Barcelona.

The hiring of Medina, who also served as Barcelona’s Team Physician from 2008 through 2015, was seen as a big priority for the organization this summer, and Bryan Colangelo highlighted the team’s focus in a press release on the matter.

“We operate in a competitive and complex industry that relies heavily on player health, and it remains our mission to excel and innovate at every possible facet of athlete care and performance,” Colangelo said. “He will plan, manage and implement our efforts to establish an elite and sustainable athlete care and performance model.”

Medina has been brought in to oversee what can be broadly described as the performance department. This will include the departments of medical and sports science, athletic training, physiotherapy, nutrition, and strength and conditioning. Look at that list of departments, and you’ll see almost all of the most important responsibilities a person could have in an NBA organization; that alone should tell you the level of responsibility he will have.

So what does this mean for the staff already in place? A team source indicated that Medina’s hiring does not necessarily impact the job security of employees currently in place, from the training staff up through Director of Performance Research and Development Dr. David Martin. No changes underneath Medina are imminent as of this writing, and Medina has talked extensively with team personnel to get an idea of what he’s heading into, but this will remain fluid, as are most jobs in the professional sports field.

Medina will be the highest authority in the food chain, and will be tasked with getting all members of the broader performance staff on one page, helping to sync the itineraries of the rostered players. In practical terms, one of Medina’s primary goals will be to make sure all personnel members involved in taking care of athletes are working in unison to keep the players in tip-top shape. This will seek to establish, for example, that the team chef, trainers, and other personnel are working together to build an individual, comprehensive day-to-day plan for someone like Robert Covington.

Aside from his practical work, Medina has a fairly extensive resume in the classroom that led him to his previous position at FC Barcelona. Medina holds a PhD from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Medical School in Spain, and Master’s Degrees from the University of Barcelona (Evaluative Medicine) and University Pablo Olavide (Fútbol Conditioning and Rehab). Medina expressed his excitement about the new gig in the team’s press release.

“I have always had a deep passion and love for the game of basketball,” said Medina, “and I look forward to working with the 76ers’ talented staff in developing connective, harmonic and world-class athlete care services for our incredible roster of players.”

Hiring someone away from one of the biggest soccer powerhouses in the world is a big deal, and Barcelona’s track record on health has been fairly spotless during Medina’s time there. One interesting nugget on that front: Cristiano Ronaldo, who plays for Barca’s hated rival Real Madrid, reportedly once sought out advice from Barcelona’s medical staff when dealing with a troubling injury.

Cristiano Ronaldo is desperate. So much so, in fact, that the Real Madrid forward has given the thumbs up for one of the people treating his injury to get in touch with FC Barcelona for a second opinion. Ronaldo is aware of the professionalism with which the Blaugrana medical services work with and approved the consultation from the very first moment it was suggested.

Let’s hope that’s the sort of reputation the Sixers’ new-look staff can build as they press forward into a new era.