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  Sat, October 16, 2004


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Big Mac sees light
By BILL HARRIS -- Toronto Sun

Todd Macculloch believes in miracles. Not the phony-baloney kind, such as attributing the U.S. Olympic hockey team's gold medal in 1980 to a higher power.

MacCulloch is talking about real miracles, the religious kind, as when someone who is injured prays to God, and those prayers are answered.

"I grew up in the church and I've always been religious, but not to this extent," MacCulloch said last night. "Growing up, I had heard things, but I don't know if I believed in miracles.

"But I talked to friends of mine -- I won't name them, but several athletes I know -- who have prayed for healing and have received it. These are people I trust, credible people."

MacCulloch, a 28-year-old native of Winnipeg, was forced to retire from the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers last summer because of a mysterious ailment that still has not been diagnosed to anyone's complete satisfaction. It could be a rare offshoot of Charcot-Marie-Tooth, or maybe not. All MacCulloch knows is he can't run without severe pain in his feet. He can't even stand in one place for too long.

A former centre with the Canadian national team who has been hired to be the analyst on Sixers radio broadcasts, MacCulloch was honoured by Canada Basketball with a jersey presentation prior to the Raptors-Sixers pre-season game at the Air Canada Centre last night.

Vince Carter of the Raptors came over and gave MacCulloch a big hug just prior to the ceremony, while Allen Iverson of the Sixers made it a point to stop his pre-game warmup, listen to what was being said during the presentation and applaud enthusiastically at the proper moments.

It might have been better to wait for the first regular-season game between the Raptors and Sixers to honour MacCulloch. Nothing is guaranteed, but presumably there will be more people in attendance on Feb. 11 than there were last night.

Regardless, if you're of the opinion it's the thought that counts -- and we're all in a religious mood here -- it was an admirable gesture.

"It's a real honour," MacCulloch said. "I was surprised when I heard they wanted to do it. But it's very nice."

The term "very nice" often has been used to describe MacCulloch's personality. But his dark side showed itself when his feet started to bother him in the summer of 2002.

"I kind of said: 'Why me?', and I didn't like the person I became," MacCulloch said. "That's how I spent the first part of dealing with this. I was very depressed. I felt like this was just some terrible thing that happened to me, that I must have done something to deserve this.

"And then I realized I had to look at all the great things I had in my life, and look at everything as a blessing. When you're at the top of the mountain, like I felt I was, you're not looking for too many answers. But when you get knocked off the mountain, and you're at the bottom looking up, I had to look for reasons.

"In a sense, it has been good for me to look at what I was putting my faith in, and what I was doing with my life. It was eye-opening to realize I was putting a lot of faith in myself and not really recognizing the gifts I had received."

MacCulloch has one more gift after being presented with a framed Team Canada basketball jersey last night.

The gift he desires most of all is to have his health back and some day to play in the NBA again. At the very least, the pudgy MacCulloch wants to get back into top shape, with swimming emerging as the best choice to replace the physical workouts provided by basketball.

But whether he's in the pool, on the court or analyzing games from the sidelines, Todd MacCulloch seems at peace.

He has progressed from feeling appropriately rewarded, to feeling victimized, to truly feeling blessed.







Do you like the new-look Raptors heading into the 2013-14 NBA season?
  Yes, new GM made great moves
  No, they will still be a terrible team
  Unsure what to make of it


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