Big Mac soldiers on

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

If there is a cure for what ails him, you get the impression Todd MacCulloch will find it.

Winnipeg's contribution to the NBA continues to do everything he can to get to the bottom of the illness that forced him to retire last fall -- even if it means traveling to England for yet another new treatment.

It's been two years now since MacCulloch played his last game for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Suffering from a rare neurological disorder known as Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome, the product of Shaftesbury High School was forced to the sidelines by tingling pain and numbness in his feet.

Since then, he's tried most everything to improve his condition, from holistic medicine to radical surgery.

His latest attempt: something called the Fenzian treatment, an electronic device that, until recently, wasn't approved in North America.

So, last summer, MacCulloch went to England to explore it -- and he's glad he did.

"It's been slow, but I'm encouraged by it," he told the Sun from his Philadelphia-area home. "This is something I believe in and I really feel is helping. So I'm going to stick with it and see how much better I can get."

MacCulloch was so encouraged, he brought one of the machines to Philadelphia, where the 76ers chiropractor has been trained on it.

And while it's no miracle cure, it's produced MacCulloch's first real reason for optimism in a while.

"It still bugs me all the time, but it's kind of like somebody turned down the volume on it a little bit," the 29-year-old said. "It's a little less tingly, a little less uncomfortable, a little bit more bearable."

This isn't even about MacCulloch playing pro basketball again, although, ultimately, that's what he'd like to do.

More importantly, though, he'd like to be able to live pain-free and do the things the rest of us take for granted. Like going for a run.

For now, MacCulloch keeps busy as the colour analyst for the Sixers radio broadcasts, and helping his wife, Jana, foster six cocker spaniel puppies they rescued from the local S.P.C.A.

"We're trying to train them to go outside right now," MacCulloch said, as the dogs barked in the background. "And there's six of them. It's hard to get them all on the same page."

As for his radio gig, MacCulloch has thrived as a member of the media, expanding into television work, both in Philadelphia and with The Score here in Canada.

Normally, he'll provide his take on the NBA. But being from hockey country, he's been asked about the NHL lockout, too.

And he doesn't mind sharing his opinion of salary caps in sports.

"As a player, it would be nice to not have them, so you could get whatever the market was bearing," MacCulloch said. "But the reality of it is the NFL has a hard cap, and they're thriving. The NBA has a soft cap, and they seem to be doing fine. Baseball doesn't have one, but I don't see how you can afford to pay guys like A-Rod $250 million and still have a league.

"So if the league is going to survive, it's probably necessary, in most cases. While it's not the best thing for players, the best thing, to me, is any way to have a league."

Gee, some common sense, and coming from someone who's still a player at heart.

Of course, MacCulloch has always been the anti-star, an underdog who had to fight every step of the way, from Shaftesbury to the University of Washington all the way to the NBA.

With determination like that, it's hard to imagine he won't find the cure for his pain.

If it's out there.


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