‘Difficult takes an hour, impossible takes 24’: Inside the grueling role of an NBA equipment manager

SALT LAKE CITY — Eighty-one bags. Seventy pairs of shoes. Sixty-nine jerseys. Sixteen basketballs. One weeklong road trip.

On Tuesday, the Pistons returned home from a seven-day stay out West, one that featured four games stuffed into a six-day period. For the players, a road trip of that magnitude is a test of not only physical aptitude but mental stimulus. It requires thousands of miles in the air, the inevitable jet lag when crossing time zones, and the recalibrating of an internal body clock that is good only for a few days.

However, for team equipment manager John “Kong” Coumoundouros and assistant equipment manager Andrew Henk, the extensive time away from home is an exercise in preparation.

Life as an equipment manager goes unnoticed, yet it’s the intricacies that go on behind the scenes that allow an NBA road trip to run like a well-oiled machine.

Anything the Pistons players need, Coumoundouros and Henk have it, plus…