Sitting on the bench in his street clothes is as close as Sidney Moncrief should have been to the floor of the Mecca during Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.
But he was a lot closer than that and ended up as a major factor in the Milwaukee Bucks' 119-107 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers Thursday night.
Playing 37 minutes, he provided 16 points, six rebounds and a barrel-full of inspiration.
Now, the Bucks hope to regain the home-court advantage by winning at the Spectrum Saturday afternoon.
His status for that game probably won't be decided until game time. The torn muscle in his left foot obviously bothered him today because he was unable to practice with the team.
It bothered him during Thursday night's game, too, and long afterward.
He spent an hour in the trainer's room before he was able to leave the building. "It was a very heroic performance," said the Bucks' vice president, John Steinmiller.
Inspired performances have been the norm for Moncrief during his seven seasons with the team.
He is nicknamed SuperSid, and two seasons ago the cover of the team's media guide featured him ripping off his sport shirt and tie to reveal a Superman uniform.
Those who would consider the pose contrived probably weren't at the Mecca Thursday.
The torn muscle, a result of the team's first-round sweep of the New Jersey Nets, had sidelined him Tuesday's opening game of the series, which the 76ers won, 118-112.
The next day, he got a shot of painkiller, but it didn't help. Doctors had said he'd need 10 to 14 days to heal completely, anyway. By that time, the Bucks, who had lost to the 76ers in six straight previous playoff games, might well be on a prolonged vacation.
When he arrived in the locker room before the game and said he felt well enough to play some, the Bucks were in business.
"The way we feel here," said guard Craig Hodges, "is that everybody cares for each other. Sidney was hurt, but we all felt it, too. When he went out there, that made us all want to do our best for him."
Maybe that's one reason why Moncrief played, center Randy Breuer suggested.
"I think the big thing was that he wasn't going to injure it more by playing," Breuer said. "It was just a case of withstanding the pain. If you can play and believe you can help, you do it; we all do it."
Coach Don Nelson of the Bucks said it would be hard to measure how much Moncrief's presence meant to the Bucks. Any added adrenaline could have been a factor in Milwaukee's 50-29 edge in rebounding, only the second time the 76ers have been outrebounded in seven playoff games.
"We just committed ourselves to really trying to block out whenever a shot went up," Nelson said. "Of course that's not as easy to do as it is to say. It really doesn't matter who's guarding him. If you don't block out, he's going to get to the ball."
It's fitting that Moncrief got the biggest offensive rebound of the game. After appearing to reinjure his foot, he somehow limped through a thicket of bodies to get the ball and put it back up for a score.
"He's amazing," Hodges said. "He plays so hard and it's the same thing every night -- and it's not as if he's only playing on the outside.
"He's down low, doing all the dirty work. You have to admire that."