Lacerte honored as Trainer of the Year

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Ed Lacerte plays cornerman to Celtics center Kevin Garnett.Longtime Celtics trainer Ed Lacerte was honored Wednesday as the 2011-12 recipient of the Joe O'Toole Athletic Trainer of the Year presented by the National Basketball Athletic Trainers Association.

With a veteran roster, Lacerte has earned his money during the Big Three era, but particularly during this condensed season where the most popular pregame lounge was the trainer's room. Celtics coach Doc Rivers went so far to suggest that Lacerte was the MVP of the Celtics this season, but also jokingly offered a less flattering nickname because of all the times he arrived bearing bad news about the health of Boston players.

"Eddie, we call him the MVP all the time -- and the Grim Reaper, because I don't talk to him now when he walks in my office," Rivers joked near the end of the playoffs. "When he comes in your office, it's not good news coming. I told him it feels like he's been in my office all year.

"But when you go back in that training room (during the playoffs), it is packed. It really is. And even with some of the guys that are -- quote, unquote -- healthy on our team right now, they're in there. So he's been put to the test. He's had an MVP year for us. He's such a positive guy. Without that, I can guarantee you there's no way we would be (in the Eastern Conference finals)."

The award is voted on by the league trainers for exemplary achievement or outstanding service to the NBA, the NBATA or the community. Lacerte was selected for his outstanding service to the NBATA. The award is named after Joe O’Toole, a longtime former head athletic trainer of the Atlanta Hawks who is regarded as the father of the NBATA.

This is the second time Lacerte has been selected as Athletic Trainer of the Year. He was also honored for the 1992-93 campaign.

“I’ve known Eddie for 25 years. He is the hardest working athletic trainer and most experienced in the league,” said Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. “We are lucky to have him caring for our players."

This was Lacerte's 25th season with the Celtics as their head trainer, making him the longest-serving athletic trainer in the history of the club. Lacerte has also served as athletic trainer for the Dream Team (the gold-medal winning 1992 US Olympic Basketball Team) and a member of the local organizing committee for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996 and 2000. Lacerte is also one of five NBA head athletic trainers who contributed to a HarperCollins Publishers book titled, “NBA Workout Training Guide,” which was published in January 1999.

In July 2009, the NBATA recognized Lacerte with the Ed Lacerte Service Award. The award was named in his honor for his contributions and exceptional service and assistance to the NBATA.