On Dec. 14, 1968, the Chaparrals were playing the Los Angeles Stars. Boone was under the basket when he collided with the Stars' Warren Davis. "Right shoulder separation," he says. "They strapped the shoulder blade down, and I had no lateral movement with my arm. I had to do a lot of dribbling with my left hand in the next game, but I could get my shooting arm up." Five nights later he got it up enough to score 28 points against New Orleans.
On April 7, 1975 the Utah Stars were leading at Denver 109-104 with seven minutes left in Game 2 of the ABA Western Division playoff semifinals, when Boone and Denver's Fatty Taylor collided chasing a loose ball. "I don't know where our bodies touched," says Boone, "but I came up with my left shoulder separated." The Stars ended up losing 126-120. "This one was worse than the other," he says. "At that point I was conscious of the consecutive-games string, and I thought I might miss a game." Back in Salt Lake City the next day, Boone underwent acupuncture. The next night he played 45 minutes, scored 25 points and the Stars won 122-108.
After that, he suffered nothing but a sprained ankle or two until Sept. 27 of this year, when Seattle's Dick Snyder caught him in the nose with an elbow during an exhibition game in Oakland. "They took me into the training room and told me it would have to be reset," says Boone. "And, lying on the table, I thought that it could mean I'd be out long enough to miss the opening game." He entered the Daniel Freeman Hospital in Inglewood the next night and had the nose rebuilt by Dr. Paul H. Toffel, who did the reconstruction job on Rudy Tomjanovich's nose.
"It was the first time in my life I'd ever been in a hospital," says Boone, "unless you count the time I had to have my stomach pumped. It was the worst feeling of my whole life."
He missed three exhibition games—there it is, the string is not technically perfect—but he was on the floor, masked, in the Lakers' opener at Philadelphia and has not missed a game since.
"Keeping the string alive is very important to me," Boone said the other day. "If you really love the game you can be proud of the fact that you've taken care of your body to this extent. I've never had a pulled muscle, hamstring, anything like that. You think of playing a whole career and never missing a game...well, if I play three more seasons after this one, that would mean 1,154 games. But I always felt, say, from 400 up, that if I had an injury that kept me from playing, I'd just be thankful to have gotten as far as I did. So I really thank God, and consider myself lucky as hell."