The Not So Green Mile: The Obsession Begins

Bill Walton's Final Months as a Boston Celtic
March 11, 1987

Is it OK if we put aside thoughts of Bill Walton for a moment or two (or at least a paragraph or two ) in order to address the what-is, rather than the what-might-be?

Larry Bird will return to the lineup after missing two games because of a recurrence of his celebrated back woes. He looked very much like his old self during yesterday's scrimmage at Hellenic College. On one occasion, he simply threw Fred Roberts to the floor, took a turnaround and then went flying in for the rebound as if the Missouri Valley Conference championship depended on it. "Larry should be in there," said K.C. Jones. "If he's in there today, he'll be in there tomorrow -- unless I hear something different tonight. I hope I don't get any midnight phone calls."

Now about Walton. Yesterday he scrimmaged against the big boys, on the big court. He participated in every aspect of the team's practice, including a pair of seven-basket, full-court scrimmages pitting the Whites (the starting five) against the Greens. The final tally was Greens 2, Whites 0, and you didn't need a PhD in Hoopology to notice the difference in certain Green Team members (Jerry Sichting and Conner Henry, to name two) with Walton on their team. Walton initiated fast breaks directly out of rebounds, things that have gone the way of the dodo in Boston. He hit every cutter. He took up valuable space underneath. It was all very entertaining and, for the Celtics, very encouraging.

"He was dynamite," said Jones. "He was blocking shots and getting up and down the floor as if he had never been anywhere. I was surprised he was this advanced. He must have been doing more in California than running on the beach. At this point, we don't want to overdo it. We want to build up to where he can go seven or eight minutes for four or five games. But I had to like it. The Green team won both games, so you can see his impact."

Walton again declined comment to the media. In the past, he has made it clear he hates talking about his injuries. It's obvious that he wants to exercise the utmost caution, based on the sorry physical history of his lower extremities.

But during his daily appearance on WBOS-FM radio yesterday afternoon, Walton hinted of a possibility that he will be activated for tonight's game.

Walton said that his leg "feels fine" after the workouts. Asked if he could play, he said, "We're just taking it day to day. But K.C. may decide to use me and throw me in there."

Sam Vincent's ailing right knee has been placed in a knee immobilizer, and he will definitely miss games tonight, Friday (at Indiana) and Sunday (New York). He will be reevaluated Monday. With Vincent's injury, the possibility looms that Walton may be activated and the Celtic guard placed on the 10-day injury list.

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