Foot Injury Interrupts Remarkable Return for Mountain Man

February 18, 1985
Before suffering another in a long series of foot and ankle injuries on Jan. 29, Bill Walton had enjoyed remarkable success with the Los Angeles Clippers this season.

"He's been healthier than we had a right to expect before the season," Clippers Coact Jim Lynam said. "He's made a fine contribution, especially in his defensive rebounding and shot-blocking."

Lynam said Walton's age, 32, and the accumulation of physical problems over his career have prevented him from practicing regularly between games. 

"He's just too sore to practice and that hurts his timing," Lynam said, referring to Walton's modest 10.5 scoring average.

The Clippers depend on Walton to trigger their running game with his outlet passes, always one of the strong points of his game.

"It's all I've ever wanted to play," Walton said of the team's up-tempo style. "But right now, I'm just so happy to get a second chance that I would play with any kind of offense."

Although the team has played poorly of late, Walton's goal still is to get the Clippers into the playoffs, which they have not participated in since moving to California from Buffalo in 1978.

"I'd like to get in the playoffs one more time," he said. "And I'd like to play as long as I can."

Walton said he is feeling better than he has in years.

"Working out last summer, just playing every day took away all the fear of injury," he added. Referring to the Clippers' tendency to win and lose games is spuits, he said, "I like this team, I think we can do well, but I don't know which team is the real Clippers, the one with the winning streaks or the one with the losing streaks."

A for his injury troubled past, Walton said, "The great temptation is to ask yourself, 'Why me? Why couldn't it have been better?' But that's not really my style. I'm just trying to take advantage of my second chance."

Cleveland Cavaliers Coach George Karl has the heart of a hustler.

He bet that rookie center Melvin Turpin and team publicist Harvey Greene $10 each that he could throw a ball backwards over his head and into the basket once in 10 tries from midcourt.

Karl collected from both, and the next day guard Johnny Davis bet his coach another $10 that he couldn't do it again.

"Don't do it," Greene advised Davis.

"He was lucky yesterday," Davis said. "Nobody can make that shot."

Karl smiled, then male it on his first try.

NBA Commissioner David Stern says he can't see himself staying on the job as long as Pete Rozelle of the National Football League.

"The NBA has a greater product," he said. "It's a challenge but also great fun to be associated with the effort to fulfill its potential."

Stern, who started has second year as commissioner last Friday, said he hoped to be able to actieve that goal in five years.

Coach Dick Motta of Dallas said he used to tell his centers to run on the Lakers' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar whenever they got a chance.

"But everyone I told that to has retired and he's still running," Motta said.

The Lakers' Pat Riley says hopefully of his 37-year-old center: "Who knows? Kareem might be like Satchel Paige and still be going strong at 45."

When a 7-year-old girl forgot the words to the national anthem at Los Angeles and tearfully walked off the floor, referee Jess Thompson pursued her, brought her back to the floor, had her restart the anthem and whisp red the words to her when she faltered.

On the second try, she made it through the song and the crowd roared for both the girl and Thompson.

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