Kevin Porter, still recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon that required surgery, said yesterday he definitely will not try to play again this season. But he stressed that he is not ready to retire from professional basketball.
Porter, 31, one of the premier playmaking guards in National Basketball Association history, tore his left Achilles' tendon Oct. 11 during the Bullets' training camp. He has not played a game this season, but now is out of a cast and just beginning rehabilitation..
While his teammates are in Pontiac, Mich., tonight to play the Detroit Pistons (WDCA-TV-20, 8), Porter will be watching on television in his Silver Spring home.
"Of course I'd love to be with them, but it wasn't meant to be," said Porter. "All I can do now is root for them, and I'm doing that as hard as I can.
"I didn't know I'd miss the game as much as I do," he added. "I was starting to feel during the summer, before we even went to camp, that the game just wasn't the same. It wasn't as fun as it used to be and I wasn't enjoying myself. But once camp started and I started working with the young guys and everything, the feeling came back and I was really looking forward to playing."
Then, near the end of a long workout that Sunday afternoon at Fort Meade, Porter turned to take a pass and the tendon snapped. "I've never been shot, but it felt like somebody shot me in the leg," he said. "It popped and felt like a rubber band rolling up my knee."
Porter had surgery the next day and for eight weeks wore a cast from his toes to the middle of his thigh. Then a smaller cast was put on and now he is walking without crutches.
A torn Achilles is one of the most serious injuries for an athlete, but many have recovered well. Tiny Archibald of the Boston Celtics has had two such injuries. He has had to adjust the way he plays but is still effective.
Porter gets therapy regularly and will start working with weights next week.
"The doctors said the tear was clean, so it was easy to sew back up," he said. "And it is healing correctly. They tell me these are two very important months because the tendon has to be stretched correctly. I have to be patient and there just isn't any way I can rehabilitate myself correctly and come back this season.
"I know I'm going to be back, though. I know I'm getting a little older. It took me six minutes to run the mile in camp, but I think I can still play.
"The Bullets have two good playmaking guards in Frank Johnson and John Lucas and there might not be room for me here when I do get well, but I've prepared myself for that possibility. I just have to look at things positively.
"This whole thing has given me a chance to reevaluate myself and my life," Porter said. "I've done that and I know I want to keep playing for a few more years and I want to get into coaching when I quit playing. I'd love to coach on the college level and be able to stay in this area and do it."