STORY BY Jessica Camerato | CSNPhilly.com
When Robert Covington receives an injury diagnosis, he thinks about more than when he can return to the court. He also explores exactly what is going on with his body thanks to his undergraduate degree in exercise science from Tennessee State University.
Covington always had an interest in athletic training. The pros were not guaranteed as he chased his NBA aspirations in college. He chose an educational path that could lead toward another career if basketball didn't pan out.
The fourth-year small forward has missed seven games this season because of injury. He suffered a left knee sprain in December (three games) and a right hand contusion in February (three games). He most recently sat out Sunday's game with right knee soreness after slipping on a wet spot the day before against the Clippers.
"When K.J. (head athletic trainer Kevin Johnson) and them are telling me about how my body is, certain ligaments, I know the terminology," Covington said on Tuesday when he returned to action against the Warriors. "I know certain ways to help my body to be proactive outside of what we do with the training staff. It's a matter of that growth and understanding my body. I've had to study this stuff for four years and it's a great thing to be a part of."
Covington balanced a science-heavy academic schedule with basketball at Tennessee State. His courses included anatomy and kinesiology. With that came lab work, where Covington dissected a pig, chicken and worm.
There was a collaborative aspect to Covington's studies. Some of his classes became a group effort, mirroring the importance of teamwork on the court.
"We had a strategy that we worked together as a class," Covington said. "We all understood different aspects, so we helped each other. It was a collective thing. We did a great a job. Our teachers told us if you try to do it by yourself, it's going to be a lot harder."
Covington doesn't plan to leave the NBA anytime soon. When that time comes, he already knows athletic training is a field he would consider.
"I know my career is not going to be forever," Covington said. "I want to be around the sport, any sport period. ... Once I finish playing, that's something I potentially would pursue."