Phoenix Suns swingman Dan Majerle is suffering numbness and strength loss in his right leg after back surgery, and doctors say it might be a year before it is known whether the problems are permanent.
Majerle, the runner-up for the National Basketball Association's Sixth Man Award this season, first experienced the symptoms during an April 4 game against the Los Angeles Lakers. He missed the next five games but was bothered by the condition throughout Phoenix's first-round playoff loss to the Utah Jazz.
During a 3 1/2 -hour operation Wednesday at Humana Hospital in Phoenix, neurosurgeons removed a grape-sized synovial cyst that was irritating a nerve along the lower right side of Majerle's spine and causing the problem.
"If he still has weakness a year from now, there is a significant chance for permanent loss," said Dr. William White, who performed the surgery. "Nerve rejuvenation progresses at a rate of about an inch per month, so it could be a year before we know if he is able to get his strength back to normal.
"But the weakness was a very mild weakness, so that certainly doesn't mean he can't play basketball."
White said the condition was caused by degenerative arthritis but is "very rare" considering that Majerle is only 25.
* DRAFT: Nevada-Las Vegas guard Anderson Hunt, Most
Valuable Player in the 1990 National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four, was one of the 12 underclassmen who have applied for early entry in the June 26 NBA draft, the league announced.
Hunt, a late addition to the list, said the primary reason he will pass up his senior year is family finances.
* KNICKS: Dick Ebersol, NBC Sports president, said studio co-host Pat Riley still is trying to decide whether he wants to accept the team's coaching offer.
Riley, believed to be New York's top choice, appears reluctant to move his family from California.
* CELTICS: Former Boston guard Charles Smith pleaded innocent to charges in connection with the hit-and-run deaths of two Boston University students March 22.
Smith was charged with two counts of vehicular manslaughter, driving to endanger and leaving the scene of an accident. He entered his plea in Suffolk County (Mass.) Superior Court.
* MAVERICKS: Roy Tarpley was given a July 8 court date on the felony DWI charge filed against him recently.
Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Mike Schwille set a parole revocation hearing in conjunction with Tarpley's trial.
The 7-foot All-Star received a two-year probated sentence stemming from his conviction after a November 1989 arrest for drunken driving.
* BULLS: Guard Michael Jordan, suffering from tendinitis in his left knee, did not attend practice, but coach Phil Jackson didn't seem worried.
"I don't think he's going to be playing golf. He knows what his priorities are right now," Jackson said. "It's not a concern, but it's better for him to take the day off."