LEXINGTON, KY. -- Only once has Sam Bowie seen the video. Once was enough.

"It's just something I really can't get myself to watch more than that," he said. "It was an ugly situation."

Painful, too. Last November, the Portland Trail Blazers center took a pass on the base line, turned and felt a bone in his leg give way.

"I heard it pop," Bowie said. "Then I saw the bone come through the skin."

Bowie, falling in a heap, pounded his hand against the floor.

"Pain," he said, "that is indescribable. I tell you, you wouldn't want to wish it on your worst enemy."

The former University of Kentucky all-America missed two college seasons with a fractured tibia in his left leg that threatened never to heal properly. This time, it was the tibia in his right leg.

"I'm trying to wash it out of my mind," Bowie said, "but not one day goes by that I don't visualize it for at least a minute."

In November, Bowie underwent surgery and had screws inserted in the leg to promote healing. In March, he had surgery again; two screws had popped loose. A week ago, the cast came off.

"The NBA season is just about over," Bowie said, "but mine is just about to begin."

The question, of course, is why the bones in Bowie's legs are so fragile. Nobody has the answer. "I've taken all kinds of tests," he said, "for things like lack of calcium, but they can't find any reason for it happening. It's just one of those things."

Bowie led Kentucky in rebounding as a freshman and in rebounding, scoring and field goal accuracy as a sophomore. He was named to the U.S. Olympic team after his freshman season and an all-America after his sophomore year.

Then came the fractures, sidelining him for 1982 and 1983. He made it back to lead the Wildcats to a 29-5 season and a Final Four appearance in 1984.

If he has doubts as he prepares for another comeback, his college experiences should help. "It's definitely prepared me mentally," Bowie said. "But there's no secret to it. It's just a matter of gradually getting used to it. You have to get yourself ready to run and jump again."

After Bowie became injured in November, the response from Kentuckians was "overwhelming," he said. It's part of the reason he has a home in Lexington during the summer months. The other reason is Bowie's increasing involvement in the standardbred racing business. He shares ownership in a trio of 3-year-old fillies.

"I love the industry," he said.

But his first love is basketball. "To play basketball as a living is a dream come true," Bowie said. "To be out there playing and see Dr. J zooming through the lane. I'm used to seeing it on TV, but to see it live and in living color . . ."

He grinned. "The talent level is just unbelievable. And you start to realize just how fortunate you are."

"I haven't accepted the fact that the leg might not come around," he said. "But if my career is over, I'm prepared for that. I have an education that's prepared me for life after basketball."

He thought about that.

"But at the same time, I feel that six or seven years from now we'll look back at the NBA and kinda giggle at what's happened so far. My days are yet to come. My future is bright."