Larry Bird says he will try to play this season if the Boston Celtics want him to, but he sounds like he would rather go home to Indiana and start training for the 1989-90 NBA season.
Bird, who has not practiced since March 9, spoke to reporters outside the Celtics' dressing room Friday night before Boston played the Cleveland Cavaliers."If the Celtics want me to play, I'll go out and play, but they'll be responsible for what happens," Bird said.
"I feel better. I have made a lot of progress the last two weeks. They say it's on course and looks good but it's taking a little longer than they thought. It needs to heal more," Bird said.
"But I don't know what direction it would go if I tried to play every day. At this point, I don't know if I would be able to come back and play. I'm anxious to test it but I don't want to test it too soon. If it flares up again, it will be a long summer and I don't want to jeopardize it for next year."
Bird, who played the last two seasons with pain in both feet, underwent surgery Nov. 19 for the removal of bone spurs from both Achilles tendons. He practiced three times the first week of March but stopped when his right Achilles became sore.
Bird has resumed a regimen of stretching and jogging. He has yet to play basketball.
"I don't know when I'll try it or if I'll try it," he said. "I do know that if I tried it today, it would hurt tomorrow. Maybe I'll test it next week and see how it feels but I don't think I could help the team right now."
With only one week left in the regular season, Bird doesn't have much time to salvage this season. Team president Red Auerbach has said he will determine when Bird will play. General manager Jan Volk has said the club could wait until the last minute to decide whether to include Bird on the Celtics' playoff roster, which must be submitted to league headquarters by April 23.
Bird Watchers have suggested the Celtics activate Bird and play him 15 or 20 minutes a game.
Bird said. "I don't think I would help much that way but if they want me to spot, I will."