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Mahorn’s foot requires surgery, out indefinitely

January 8, 1997

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) _ No way can the Detroit Pistons afford to lose Rick Mahorn now. That’s why coach Doug Collins plans on keeping the original Bad Boy around, even though he can hardly walk.

It turns out Mahorn’s right foot was injured more severly than anyone dared to imagine. As a result, he has to undergo surgery either today or Thursday, forcing him out of the lineup for up to three months.

``We want Ricky to be around,″ Collins said. ``We want him at practice, on road trips. We want him with us every day. We don’t want him to disappear. He’s valuable to us in many ways.″

The injury came just as the feisty Mahorn had worked his way into the starting lineup.

The original Bad Boy, who helped the Pistons win the NBA championship in 1989, was re-signed as a free agent this season. In 21 games, Mahorn averaged 9.8 minutes, 2.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. But his real value extended far beyond playing time and statistics.

Mahorn’s leadership and dynamic personality have been crucial to Detroit’s surprising start. The Pistons, 46-36 in Collins’ first season, are 24-8 following Tuesday night’s 86-76 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

``Ricky has a tremendous spirit and an energy about himself,″ Collins said. ``We don’t want to lose any of that.″

The surgery will be performed by Dr. David Kargas, an orthopedic foot surgeon at Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital, team physician Ben Paolucci said Tuesday.

Mahorn, who injured the foot Jan. 2 in a game against the Boston Celtics, was originally expected to be out 3-4 weeks. Further testing Monday, however, showed surgery and a longer rehabilitation period would be needed.

Kargas will place screws to repair ligament damage to the second metatarsal bone. Mahorn won’t be able to put weight on the foot for eight weeks.

``It’s a very serious injury,″ Paolucci said. ``The ligament pulled a piece of bone loose.″

After that, Mahorn is expected to begin a rehabilitation program. Still, at the age of 38, there is some doubt whether he could be ready in time for the NBA playoffs.

``We just won’t know,″ Collins said. ``That’s looking into a crystal ball we don’t have. Mother Nature works different ways with different people.″

Collins said there wasn’t much chance the Pistons would bring in another big man to replace Mahorn.

``There just aren’t any floating around,″ Collins said.

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