This weekend saw the return to basketball of Houston Rockets coach Kevin McHale.
The former NBA All-Star has been away from the game since the tragic November 24 death of his daughter. Sasha McHale died of Lupus-related complications and was only 23-years old.
Before the Rockets took on the Dallas Mavericks, McHale spoke of the ordeal:
“I feels good to be back. I’ve been gone a pretty long time. It’s good to rely on the players to make plays and the coaches to help me out a lot.
“It’s been a while, but hopefully it’s the right time. I don’t know if there ever is a right time. Don’t know if there’s a playbook by this. I’m excited to be back. I think it’s gonna be good. It’s been, needless to say, a terrible month. But you know, it just felt like the time to come back and go to work and be around the guys.”
It is times like these that really emphasise the insignificance of sports in the overall scheme of things. Outside of the game that we all obsess over, there are real people — players, coaches, administration staff and their families — and those people have real life concerns.
Sasha McHale's life was taken far too soon. Lupus is a destructive autoimmune disease which causes the immune system to turn against parts of the body which it is designed to protect. This leads to inflammation and damage to various body tissues. At present there is no cure.
In Kevin McHale's absence, the Rockets were 7-6 under the guidance of acting coach Kelvin Sampson. McHale kept in constant daily contact with the team and described that hour of the day as "the best hour of the day" amidst the terrible personal tragedy that he was experiencing along with his family.
“I’ve heard from a lot of people,” McHale said. “That’s been tremendous. I had a lot of guys that I didn’t know that well that really reached out, and I spent a lot of time talking to them. It’s a terrible situation. It’s a terrible situation to even think about. To comprehend the whole thing, it’s almost incomprehensible."
The Rockets currently sit at 9-10, second-last in the Southwest Division.