As a new spokesperson for the National Kidney Foundation, Elliott knows there are more than 300,000 patients on dialysis, including thousands waiting for a transplant, hoping for a miracle. He can also tell you the number of athletes from major pro sports who have competed with a transplanted kidney: zero. "Sometimes I wonder, What if Noel hadn't been a match?" Elliott says. "What would I be doing? Probably going to dialysis three times a week."
Don't ask him to let go of his NBA career. Not yet. He's shooting for a mid-February return to the lineup. He wants to grab rebounds and take charges. He drinks extra water and still swallows a bunch of pills, but he's been knocking down those tippy-toed jumpers for weeks now, and he's aching to hoist one up for real.
"You know what?" Sean Elliott says. "I haven't felt this good in years."