Garbajosa: Timberwolves president decided Juancho won’t play in Olympics

2021-07-24T13:43:56+00:00 2021-07-24T21:27:54+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

24/Jul/21 13:43

Juancho Hernangomez was ruled out of the Olympics almost in the eleventh hour.

By Antonis Stroggylakis & Alex Madrid/

Spanish Basketball Federation president Jorge Garbajosa pointed at Minnesota Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas as the person who decided that Juancho Hernangomez won’t play in the Olympic Games. He mentioned that no doctor was involved in the decision.

“Juancho wants to play in the Olympic Games, but Juancho won’t be able to play,” Garbajosa said in a remote press conference from Tokyo. “We’ve had countless medical meetings and we’ve never received a ‘no’. We have a received a ‘yes’. We don’t have a problem with the Minnesota Timberwolves or the NBA. It’s a problem of people – not medical personnel – who have personally decided that Juancho couldn’t play. I’m talking about their president of basketball operations [Gersson Rosas].”

Hernangomez became cleared to play with the Spanish national team and traveled to Tokyo after it was decided that he has sufficiently rehabilitated a shoulder injury (grade 4-5 acromioclavicular dislocation) he suffered early in July. The Spanish Federation had then announced that the Timberwolves forward is ruled out of the Olympics, but his condition significantly improved over the following weeks.

During the national team’s trip to Las Vegas for some preparation games, Spain coach Sergio Scariolo said that Hernangomez is “progressing well” and that “the cooperation with the Timberwolves has been “great” before the match vs. USA.

“In 5 days in Las Vegas no doctor traveled to see the player,” Garbajosa said. “There was only a remote meeting with a physiotherapist (Erin Sierer) who asked Juancho Hernangómez for tests and ends up congratulating him on his recovery. Four hours before the game against USA, there was a meeting between the doctors of the national team and the doctors of the Timberwolves franchise who congratulated Juancho and the national team on the recovery.”

“The answer about whether Juancho could play was a ‘yes’ and that the next evaluation will be after the Olympics. From that moment until Minnesota told us that he won’t play, there were a series of facts that showed that the decision isn’t of medical nature. Even the Timberwolves coach congratulated Juancho for being in Tokyo. No one doubted that he could play.”

On Friday (23/7), Hernangómez participated in the opening ceremony and the Parade of Nations, together with the other Spanish Olympians. His older brother and fellow Spain player Willy Hernangómez posted photo of them on social media and the picture was also shared by by the Timberwolves.

“If the change of opinion had to do with a relapse or a physical problem on Juancho, we could understand it,” Garbajosa added. “I understand that for the doctors to change their mind, they will have to see or examine the player, something that hasn’t happened. It’s surreal.”

Garbajosa emphasized that the Timberwolves doctor had initially greenlighted Hernangomez’s participation in the Olympics and this is why the player was added on the roster for Tokyo.

“Minnesota gives as a reason that their doctors have never given the ‘OK’. There were six people from the national team in that meeting who testified that they clearly gave the ‘yes’. In the 21st century with six people who speak English perfectly, it’s incomprehensible to give that reason. If they hadn’t given a ‘yes’, Scariolo would never had said that he thanks the Timberwolves for everything that happened. If they hadn’t said ‘yes’, the player would never have traveled to Tokyo.”

Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas reacted to the controversy surrounding Hernangomez.

“We support our international players’ decisions to play with their National teams and appreciate the passion of Juancho and the Spanish Federation to represent their country. Unfortunately, we are dealing with an active injury,” he said in a statement, “Based on our team physician’s recommendation, Juancho needs time to recover from and rehabilitate his injury, and that timeline restricts Juancho’s availability to participate in the Tokyo Olympics. The determined recovery plan is the best path forward to allow Juancho to heal properly.”