In the 63 games before his foot injury, McHale averaged 26.8 points on 62 percent shooting and scored 30 or more points 22 times. In the 34 games since, he has averaged 21.8 points on 57 percent shooting and scored 30 or more points twice.
McHale is known as one of the greatest interviews in the league. In fact, he recently was named a member of the league's first all-interview team. But on the subject of the injury, McHale has been reluctant to talk. "I wish people would stop asking me about my foot," he says. "In the playoffs, you're supposed to play hurt."
Others are not so hesitant to address the issue. Early in the series, Bird said he wished McHale would go home and not risk further damage to the foot, first injured when Phoenix Sun Larry Nance stepped on it. (McHale also suffered stretched ligaments in his ankle.) McHale, after all, was risking his $1 million-a-year livelihood.
A nationally known orthopedic surgeon examined McHale and wondered how he was able to play at all. "It's amazing to me," said Dr. Tony Daly, who has dealt with Bill Walton's myriad foot problems. "I don't know how he has played since March."
But he has, missing only five games since the injury, and though it is clear that McHale is not as dominant as he was when he was healthy, it's also safe to say that without McHale's presence, the Celtics never would have come as far as they have. In the last three games, including two Boston victories, McHale has 67 points and 37 rebounds.