The Not So Green Mile: Walton Reports he is Ambulatory

Bill Walton's Final Months as a Boston Celtic
February 1987

Bill Walton is back.

Back, as in back from California. Not back, as in back to action. That remains the goal.

"I feel a lot better," reports The Redhead. "I have good function in my foot. I've been running and I can jump. But I haven't played basketball yet."

And exactly when will that be, Bill?

"I'll start real soon," Walton says. "When I do, I won't start playing with the full team. I'll start on my own. Then maybe I can get a couple of Green Team guys to play with me, and we'll go from there."

It does appear that widespread rumors of Walton being ready to play NBA ball in three weeks' time are somewhat fanciful.

"We're not setting any public timetable," cautions general manager Jan Volk. "It's not realistic, and it's not fair to be specific. But he's home, and he's ready to take the next step very soon."

While in California, Walton embarked on a program under the supervision of Dr. Tony Daly, the surgeon whose expertise made it possible for Walton to have a basketball career six years ago. "I ran on the beach, lifted weights and rode my bike," explains Walton.

Did he say "bike"? Didn't that excessively vigorous pedaling allegedly lead to his current woes?

"Not a stationary bike," Walton points out. "My regular road-racing bike."

According to Walton, the best therapy was running on the LA beaches. "It was great to get out on the soft sand," Walton says. "I've had a lot of ankle injuries, and I can tell you it's the best thing for it."

Walton kept track of the team via satellite dishes, and his opinion probably doesn't differ from yours. "Obviously, the first string is playing great right now," he says, "but it's been hard to sustain that momentum afterward."

Says Volk in his best lawyerese, "It's appropriate to be more optimistic than we've been. It's appropriate to consider where he's been and where he is and say there's been improvement."

There still isn't as much improvement as Walton would like, in that there still exists some pain. "I'd like to eliminate it," says Walton, "but it is greatly reduced, and I am looking forward to playing basketball on a daily basis again."

And in case you're wondering, the date by which the Celtics must decide whether to activate Walton for the playoffs is midnight April 19, the last day of the regular season. As dramatic as that might be, Walton and the brass would prefer to have him certified as playoff-ready long before then.

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