1983-84 Boston Celtics
Celtics 119, Nuggets 90
When it comes to injuries, Larry Bird is usually predictable. He shakes off the pain and plays. If there happens to be a game the next night, he will insist on a pregame test at the arena. But yesterday morning, the Celtics' All-Star forward reluctantly agreed that his latest injury was serious enough to prevent him from making the trip to Atlanta to face the Hawks. Bird got as far as Bradley International airport, just outside Hartford, before parting with his teammates on the advice of trainer Ray Melchiorre and coach K.C. Jones.
Apparently, Bird's injury is more serious than first diagnosed. He suffered strained ligaments in the patella of his right knee in Friday's 119-90 victory over the Denver Nuggets at the Hartford Civic Center. Bird scored 17 points in the first quarter but left the game and did not return on orders from team physician Dr. Thomas Silva. Silva had hoped that ice packs and rest overnight would diminish the pain and swelling, but yesterday morning, Bird was having trouble walking around the hotel lobby in Hartford.
Former Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, now an announcer for Sportschannel, said the television replays showed that Bird suffered a hyperextension when he slipped on a freshly waxed spot on the floor."I've had that injury myself as a player," he said. "It's not one that is likely to go away in a hurry." Melchoirre hopes Bird will be able to rejoin the team for Tuesday night's game in New York against the Knicks. "But for now," he said, "it is a wait-and-see situation. You need full motion in the knee to run, and right now Larry does not have full motion. But he will be under a doctor's care, and we'll have to see how it goes."
Last night's game was pushed back from 7:30 to 8:10 so it could be shown on local television. Atlanta (10-11) figures to be a prime contender with Milwaukee in the Central Division, although the Hawks first have to halt an 0-10 slide on the road, including a 110-104 loss at Indiana Friday night. Atlanta has two hurting players - Glenn Rivers (intestinal virus) and Scott Hastings (knee) . . . A funny moment during the game in Hartford almost went unnoticed. When it was determined that Denver's Dan Issel would be unable to play further after he sustained back spasms, Issel sent the ballboy to courtside, where, with a straight face, the ballboy told coach Doug Moe, "Dan wants his teeth." Issel wears a full dental plate, which he takes out while playing . . . The Nuggets, incidentally, learned that the cable television business can be treacherous. Guess what game they gave free to cable systems to launch a new 27-game schedule? Yup!