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  Thu, March 18, 2004


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'My toughest year'
MacCulloch convalescing while controversy dogs team

By PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

Todd MacCulloch is ready to toss his crutches aside and start walking on his own again.

Two months removed from surgery to his left foot, Winnipeg's lone representative in the NBA is on the road to recovery.

Whether that road leads to a significant improvement in the condition that's sidelined him for more than a year remains to be seen.

It was 14 months ago MacCulloch was cut down by a rare neurological condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth, which causes pain, burning and numbness in his feet.

After trying nearly every treatment imaginable, the Shaftesbury High School grad opted for surgery in an attempt to salvage his career.

Doctors believed an impingement to the nerves in his feet may have been contributing to his condition, and the surgery at least partially verified it.

As recently as last week, though, things didn't look particularly good.

"It felt great immediately after surgery, and then it slowly kind of felt like it was worse than before," MacCulloch told The Sun yesterday from his Philadelphia-area home. "I guess that's pretty natural for some people. It still doesn't feel quite right, but there's still some swelling and things. I'm hoping when they go away that things will continue to improve. But I'm doing better than I was last week."

WAITING FOR AN ANSWER

After sitting around and doing very little the last eight weeks, MacCulloch is ready to set aside his walking boot and crutches for good.

The answer he's been looking for, though -- whether the operation will significantly clear his symptoms -- is still a few weeks away, at least.

"Neurosurgery is extremely unpredictable," the 7-foot centre said. "The earliest (evidence) would have been six weeks after. On the longer end would be somewhere like three months, maybe up to six months."

MacCulloch is hoping the next month provides some reason to believe.

For now, he'll try to reacquaint himself with a team that appears ready to come apart at the seams.

In case you haven't noticed, the Sixers are a walking, talking soap opera these days, with star point guard Allen Iverson playing the role of both hero and villain, depending on your perspective.

"It's not only my toughest year, but the team's obviously going through a lot of stuff," MacCulloch said. "It's not rosy for anybody. But I'd rather be going through it with them on the court."

Iverson, it seems, is either hurt or clashing with interim coach Chris Ford over something, proving one again that he and controversy are a package deal.

Selfish. Arrogant. Spoiled. Iverson has been called all those things. In a lot of ways, he's the anti-MacCulloch.

But MacCulloch says he's also one heck of a teammate.

"I see him pretty much every day, and he's someone I always like to see and talk to. He's a fun guy to have around, and treats his teammates extremely well. He's usually pretty upbeat and he plays extremely hard."

Staying upbeat and playing hard are also MacCulloch trademarks.

He's doing a pretty good job of one, and praying for another shot at the other.

If it turns out the surgery worked, MacCulloch would immediately have the same procedure done on his right foot.

Here's hoping he needs those crutches again real soon.









Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
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