During the past several years’ push for universal health care, it’s unlikely President Obama and his handlers considered the plight of NBA assistant coaches, but those in the employ of Clippers owner Donald Sterling don’t have it particularly easy, as the Milwaukee Journal-Times’ Gery Woelfel explains. Former Clippers assistant/interim head coach Kim Hughes (above) was diagnosed with prostate cancer 7 years ago, and while Mike Dunleavy was successful in finding a surgeon who could do operate in time for Hughes to make it to training camp, matters weren’t nearly as smooth when it came time to pay the bill.
“I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn’t be covered,” Hughes said. “I said, ‘Are you kidding me?’ And they said if they did it for one person, they’d have to do for everybody else.”
When Dunleavy learned the Clippers wouldn’t cover the cost of Hughes’ surgery, he mentioned it to his players.
Several of them, including now Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric, were taken aback by the news and decided to offer their assistance.
“Kim was one of our coaches and he’s a really good friend of mine, too,” Maggette said. “He was in a situation where the Clippers’ medical coverage wouldn’t cover his surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to help someone in need, to do something that Christ would do.
“It shows your humanity, that you care for other people and not just yourself. Kim was in a life-and-death situation.”
It was indeed a dicey time for Hughes. After a biopsy was taken, he learned his prostate cancer was much worse than he believed.
The cancer had quickly spread and was on the brink of moving to other areas of his body.
If Hughes had delayed the surgery, and if Maggette and his teammates hadn’t provided the necessary financial assistance, Hughes doesn’t know what would have occurred.
“Those guys saved my life,” Hughes said. “They paid the whole medical bill. It was like $70,000 or more. It wasn’t cheap.”