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The Celtics star didn't miss any games as a result of that incident, but on Jan. 7, Bird began having spasms of pain that were atypically severe. After consultation with the Celtics' medical staff and his personal physical therapist, Dan Dyrek, Bird agreed to accept a more aggressive treatment. He was given anti-inflammatory medication for the swelling in a nerve root in his right lower back, the source of his pain, and was put in a flexion brace to support his back. As of Sunday he had missed four straight games, three of them Celtics victories.
In the past the Celtics have been evasive about Bird's injuries, but now Dave Gavitt, the team's senior executive vice-president says, "We have no timetable for his return." Bird certainly won't be talking much to the press; he has always done a Howard Hughes when injured. The best guess is that he might return for the trying week that begins on Jan. 21, a seven-day stretch during which Boston plays the Pistons home and away, the 76ers on the road and the Lakers at home.
Here's a chilling scene: Three NBA referees are clustered around the scorer's table, gazing at a small television screen, when one of them says, "Now, when Jordan took off and went into his 360, the question is whether Rodman had already established defensive position here in the lane. Hmmm...."
Yes, the NBA Competition Committee is going to discuss the subject of instant replay when it meets during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, N.C., next month.
Say it ain't so, commissioner David Stern. "Look, my view is that our game should not have instant replay," said Stern last week in his New York office. "We believe the referees, like the players, are human beings, and anything that takes away from that clement is bad.
"But there has been a lot written this season about 'egregious mistakes' that have cost a few teams some games, so we decided to begin collecting data only—and let me emphasize only—on the narrow issues of the expiration of the shot clock and the three-point line in the last two minutes of the game."
Honest? No running to the screen to rule if a block was really a charge or if a blocked shot was really a hack?
"Absolutely not," said Stern. "I emphasize that there has been no ground swell of support for instant replay from within the league, at least not for anything but the limited area we'll be studying."
Still, it's surprising that anyone in the NBA wants to discuss any aspect of instant replay. The fast pace of the NBA game is a primary attraction for the fan. Nevertheless, here are some other opinions from around the league: