Kim Hughes was in trouble, more trouble than he ever envisioned.
While working as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers seven years ago, Hughes was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
But Hughes was told not to worry. His doctor assured him the cancer was slow growing and felt Hughes could wait several months before undergoing surgery.
But Hughes had an issue with that. The Clippers were about to go to training camp and Hughes, a basketball junkie with a voracious work ethic, didn't want to miss a day of work.
"My doctor told me he would do the surgery in a couple of months and then I'd be off my feet for a couple of months," said Hughes, who played at the University of Wisconsin. "He said, ‘You know this is major surgery.' "
Hughes confided in Mike Dunleavy, then the Clippers head coach, about his dilemma. Dunleavy suggested Hughes consult with another doctor he knew and perhaps Hughes' surgery could be sooner.
Dunleavy's suggestion paid off. Hughes' new doctor, Stuart Holden, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, was receptive to doing the surgery the following week.
But then Hughes encountered yet another major obstacle.
"I contacted the Clippers about medical coverage and they said the surgery wouldn't be covered," Hughes said. "I said, ‘Are you kidding me?' And they said if they did it for one person, they'd have to do for everybody else."
When Dunleavy learned the Clippers wouldn't cover the cost of Hughes' surgery, he mentioned it to his players.
Several of them, including now Milwaukee Bucks forward Corey Maggette, Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Marko Jaric, were taken aback by the news and decided to offer their assistance.
"Kim was one of our coaches and he's a really good friend of mine, too," Maggette said. "He was in a situation where the Clippers' medical coverage wouldn't cover his surgery. I thought it was a great opportunity to help someone in need, to do something that Christ would do.
"It shows your humanity, that you care for other people and not just yourself. Kim was in a life-and-death situation."
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It was indeed a dicey time for Hughes. After a biopsy was taken, he learned his prostate cancer was much worse than he believed.
The cancer had quickly spread and was on the brink of moving to other areas of his body.
If Hughes had delayed the surgery, and if Maggette and his teammates hadn't provided the necessary financial assistance, Hughes doesn't know what would have occurred.
Well, actually, he does.
"Those guys saved my life," Hughes said. "They paid the whole medical bill. It was like $70,000 or more. It wasn't cheap.
"It showed you what classy people they are. They didn't want me talking about it; they didn't want the recognition because they simply felt it was the right thing to do."
Hughes said he will be forever grateful to Brand, Jaric, Kaman and Maggette. In fact, Hughes said every time he runs into any of them, he thanks them from the bottom of his heart.
Maggette said that was indeed the case, laughing how he has repeatedly told Hughes over the years it wasn't necessary.
"Kim thanks me every time he sees me; he does that every single time," Maggette said smiling. "I've said to him, ‘Kim, come on. You don't have to do that. You're good.'
"It just shows you what kind of person he is, to keep thanking me all the time for that. Like I said, it was just my time to serve another human being.
"I think if anyone on my team is in that kind of situation, I would try to help him out if I could. That's just the person I am. I was raised that way."
Hughes said Maggette's concern and generosity illustrate how sometimes people erroneously perceive others.
"Corey is perceived by some people as not being a good person because he seems to be aloof and arrogant," Hughes said. "But they don't know him. He's a good man; he's a great man.
"You can have all the money, all the success, all that stuff, all those so-called important things in life, but in the end, you're judged by what you did for your fellow man. Corey will always be an important part of my life. What he and those other guys did for me put things in perspective.''