Feb 11, 2020 • 31M

TrueHoop Podcast: The cold war in a tub

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Henry Abbott
Award-winning hard truths about the NBA since 2005.
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This is the untold story of how ice baths moved from Moscow to the NBA.

It was 1986. Geneva, Switzerland. Worried that the U.S. and the Soviet Union were close to World War III, Ronald Reagan announced a giant cultural exchange. Journalists, professors, and sports teams would board planes to make friends and, hopefully, bring peace. 

As a result, American Rich Dalatri, weeks from starting his new job as the first strength and conditioning coach in NBA history, joined a group of American coaches visiting Moscow’s secretive Institute of Sport. 

That’s where Dalatri slipped away from his handlers and made friends with cutting edge Russian coaches and athletes. They offered him innovative workouts, banned substances, and … a plunge into water so cold he thought it might kill him.

Next thing you know, Dalatri was back in New Jersey trying to convince one of the strongest 6-foot-11 men of all time—Darryl Dawkins—to climb into a garbage can full of frigid ice water. A few decades later, almost every NBA player gets in cold tubs regularly. 

This is the story of how ice baths came to the NBA.

It’s a sample of the TrueHoop Podcast, one of our most exciting projects, which is in development. We are thrilled to share it with you. You can hear another sample here.

Image © Sergey Pesterev / Wikimedia Commons