Walton is up on Daly's examining table, telling the surgeon that his left foot, the one that caused him the worst misery of his life, is "feeling great." Daly presses down mightily on the foot and asks Walton to lift it. Walton practically picks Daly off the floor.
"That's fantastic!" shouts Daly. "Two months ago you couldn't lift that foot at all." Walton is grinning like a kid who has brought home straight A's. Daly explains that because of the bone spurs that developed at the points where the ankles join the feet, Walton had been unable to flex his feet properly. Thus, he had been "playing on his toes" almost from the time he first joined the Trail Blazers in 1974. "He would jump off his toes and land on his toes, straining the muscles, tendons and bones in his feet, causing himself almost constant pain," says Daly. Daly believes that it was because of the increasing severity of the pain that Walton reluctantly agreed to be injected with the painkiller Xylocaine before the Portland- Seattle playoff game on April 21, 1978. With the feeling in his feet deadened, Walton had no way of knowing that he was placing too much stress on them; as a consequence, Daly believes, the tarsal navicular bone in his left foot fractured. This July, Daly removed the bone spurs, freeing Walton's feet to move up and down as they should.
Since then Walton has been training prodigiously—doing calisthenics, lifting weights, stretching, running, riding his bicycle 50 to 60 miles a day and playing full-court basketball. "It's like I'm playing a whole new way," Walton tells Daly. "I can jump better, and my feet don't hurt."
Vandeweghe, who negotiated Walton's San Diego contract and has spent the summer helping to counsel Walton—as much as that is possible—so that he can become a more palatable, likable, marketable person, says, "I was sick to my stomach the first time I saw that foot. It was atrophied, with hardly any bone mass. It looked like a 6-year-old's foot. Now it's probably as strong as ever."
With the glowing medical report in, Kolker whisks Walton off to his next stop, Eric Ross & Co., one of Beverly Hills' swankest clothing stores. Kolker fancies himself a hip tutor, bent on introducing Walton to all the "right stuff" for his immersion into the beautiful millionaire jock society. As Kolker points out where this star buys underwear and that one buys bagels, Walton continually needles him. "Hal's Disneyland," he calls the trip.
"You could learn to love it, Bill," says Kolker.
"I like San Diego, Hal. And basketball, the mountains and the Grateful Dead."
With Walton's arrival, the clothing store whirs. Under the direction of owner Ronn Teitelbaum, tailors and clerks swarm over Walton. "Twenty minutes," says Kolker, as though he has a Saudi prince in tow.
Head tailor David Lenga mounts a stepladder in order to fit Walton for four three-piece suits, four sport coats with slacks, several pairs of jeans and an overcoat. "Nothing too trendy," says Teitelbaum, "but definitely in style." Total price: nearly $10,000. Customers gape at the sight of the tailor with tape measure climbing over Walton like a Lilliputian binding Gulliver.
Back in the limo, Walton says, "I like nice clothes."