The Not So Green Mile

Bill Walton's Final Months as a Boston Celtic
December 1986

Kevin McHale`s wife recently gave birth to an 8-pound-14-ounce boy. Bill Walton suggested that Bill would be a good name, but McHale said, ``We looked at his feet and they looked healthy, so we can`t name him Bill.``

For Walton, that quip is a sad but true commentary. Walton, who 11 months ago blocked seven shots, grabbed eight rebounds and scored 11 points in Boston`s 110-95 rout of the Lakers, was on the bench when Los Angeles returned Friday night. Walton has an injured right ankle that refuses to heal.

``Sure, this has been very frustrating for me. I want to be playing,`` Walton said.

Walton has not practiced with the Celtics and has been on the injured list since Nov. 10. His problems began a week before training camp when he broke the little finger on his left hand during a pick-up game. While his finger healed, Walton pedaled an exercise bike so furiously that he irritated the metatarsal bones in his right ankle. The inflammation in the joint prevents him from pivoting or flexing his foot, which means he can`t run.

``Therapy helps, and I am getting better. It`s just a very slow process,`` he said. ``I have to force myself to sit. Right now there`s no way I can play. Nope, I don`t have any time frame. I hope to stop hurting and start playing basketball soon. I`ll do what it takes.``

Walton has a history of problems with his left foot. He missed three seasons because of injuries and played only 14 games in 1979-80 and 33 in 1982-83.

``Yeah, psychologically this is difficult, but I got over all of that when I had real bad foot problems in my other foot. I couldn`t even stand up then,`` he said. ``Sure, this has been a relatively long-term injury for me since I`ve been with the Celtics, but I can remember when the doctors told me to retire.``

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