The Cavaliers, without Dion Waiters, defeated the Detroit Pistons last night in exhibition play. Yet it was 2 pieces on information off the court that will grab the most attention. Andrew Bynum was seen jumping and could be playing 5 on 5 soon and could be ready at the start of the season, or shortly after. The other piece of news was Mike Brown’s discussion of rookie Anthony Bennett, where Bennett’s medical conditions were revealed: asthma and sleep apnea.
These two issues, along with his recovery from off-season shoulder surgery, explain some of what is perceived as conditioning issues. To keep his arm immobilized while the shoulder healed even running could be problematic so cardio work may have been difficult to achieve for a significant period of time. Also, almost a cliche by now, is that nothing prepares you for game action like game action, you can’t simulate it.
The asthma and sleep apnea are a little more concerning and long term. Both of these issues impact the ability for the body to get oxygen in; one while sleeping the other both while asleep and while awake. The sleep apnea machine that Bennett sleeps with should help this process but, as I was tested for this in the past, could impair overall sleep. The machine makes some level of noise yet the bigger problem is the contraption that is placed over your mouth and generally into your nose, not comfortable at all. Also, since its connected to wires and a hose, the freedom to move around and turnover is limited. Once someone is used to it, sleep probably comes much better. One possible solution is if medically a chamber type tent can do the same thing (think hyperbolic chamber many athletes use).
As an asthmatic there are many issues that have impacted my life and physical activity. While each asthmatic has individual needs, some have more exercise enduced, there are many similarities. For the first 20 years of my life I had to carry a rescue inhaler with me. Whether it was when I played sports or just day to day, my asthma was not controlled without the use of the inhaler. The first 17 years of my life were in Sandusky, and since moving have found that being near the lake (still water) made my asthma worse. Once being placed on more proper medications, I have not had the need for a rescue inhaler in the past 5 or so years.
Yet asthma has still impacted my life and could impact Bennett’s in similar ways. I can give maximum effort on the court, but in shorter bursts then most people. Cardio exercise can increase my lung capacity, but often my lung capacity keeps me from being able to do as much. Due to the lack of oxygen to my muscles, recovery time is greater. Thinking about my asthma can create physiological responses from my body, much the same way if someone tells you “Don’t think of a white elephant” and you do (Did you?).
Thankfully for Bennett he has the best care possible, and access to treatments that I may not have. How he does with extended minutes, both total and long minutes in a row, will be interesting. How he recovers on back to back night, especially where travel in involved, could be a pattern to watch. How his conditioning improves given these limitations may be much longer then he, the fans or the organization hopes for.