By April 12, six days before the first playoff game against Seattle, Walton was working out with the team. He was limping noticeably and refused to talk about his injury. He had been to at least four other doctors in addition to Cook; all of the doctors' X rays had been negative and none had been able to pinpoint his injury. On Monday, April 17, Ramsay announced that Walton would start the following night against the SuperSonics. Asked for his reaction, Walton said, "Right now I don't want to talk about my injury or the Seattle series. Whatever Jack Ramsay says about me is the way it is."
On Tuesday night Walton played a heroic game. Although he had missed 22 straight games, and had barely practiced, he played 34 minutes, scored 17 points and had 16 rebounds while the Blazers lost 104-95.
reported that Walton "hobbled like a trotting horse who could break down at any time."
On Wednesday he could not walk without pain. He spent most of the day in the whirlpool while the Blazers practiced. On Thursday he practiced but could not run. Game 2 of the Seattle series was on Friday night. Walton was in pain. Cook determined that Walton could take an injection of Xylocaine if he wanted to. Fully aware of what had happened to Gross, Walton's mind was heavy with doubt and conflict. He remembered what he went through his first two years in Portland, and he remembered what it had felt like to win the championship. He remembered Blazer-mania. Cook was his friend. So was Ramsay. No one told him not to take the shot. He took it. It didn't help much. The foot still hurt. He played.
The Blazers beat Seattle 96-93. Walton played 15 minutes in the first half, scored 10 points and got six rebounds. He stayed on the bench the entire second half. After the game Cook said, "I don't know if Bill can play Sunday. We're going to take X rays."
The X rays taken that night at Good Samaritan Hospital were negative. Walton went home, hurting. According to an article last May in the newspaper Willamette Week, by John Bassett, the attorney who would later become Walton's co-agent, "During the middle of the night Cook received a phone call. Said the caller, 'I don't give a damn what you say. Walton has a broken foot.' "
Saturday morning Cook called Walton back to the hospital for more X rays. Finally a fracture was found—a broken tarsal navicular bone below the left ankle. "The break was not related to the pain Walton had been having in the arch of the same foot," says Cook. The fact that Walton had been given an injection before the second Seattle game had been leaked to the press. Cook was asked if the injection could have contributed to the fracture. Cook said the injection was in an area "completely separate from the area of the break." Asked if the injection could have made it possible for Walton to put extra pressure on the bone, forcing it to break, Cook said, "Absolutely not. The area of the break was not numbed. If it had been, he wouldn't have felt the pain until much later than he did."
Walton did not go to any more playoff games, and Seattle won the series four games to two. He stayed in bed most of three weeks. On May 13 he went to a birthday party for Cook and, together with Culp, presented the doctor with a $1,300 motorcycle as a gift. A few days later Walton, cast and all, joined Cook on a raft trip on the Owyhee River. Before he left town, Walton met with Glickman, who was concerned that "those two friends of yours," meaning, Scott and Bassett, were suggesting that Cook had made some serious mistakes in his treatment of some Trail Blazer players. The general manager suggested to Walton that he make a public statement in support of Cook. Walton said he would think about it.
In late June, Cook removed the cast and Walton drove to Eden, Ariz. to soak his foot in the hot springs there. Walton spent a month in Arizona thinking over the events of the previous months. He concluded that in playing with his injured left foot he had gone far beyond what he thought was morally right. He also concluded that he was the one who had made the mistakes, and his biggest mistake was allowing his trust in others—even close friends—to supersede his principles. He would have to make a stand, but he was not yet sure how.
His first Blazer contact upon returning to Portland was with Culp at—wouldn't you know?—a hospital. Walton was admitted to Willamette Falls Hospital on July 13 with a painful sinus condition, and later Culp had come to drive him home. At one point Culp casually suggested that Walton make a public statement supporting Cook and repudiating Scott and Bassett. The words must have had a familiar ring to Walton. And a hollow one. That same morning, Walton's left foot was examined by Cook, who said that the bone was healing normally. But Walton was still hobbling around on crutches.
On July 18 Walton met with Glickman to discuss team matters. In the course of the meeting, Glickman reminded Walton of his earlier request for a statement of support for Cook.