Larry Bird, at 35 the only player among the NBA's top 20 in
scoring, rebounds and assists, was placed on the injured list by the Boston Celtics last night because of a persistent back problem.
Dave Gavitt, the Celtics' basketball operations chief, said that doctors had recommended rest and anti-inflammatory medication for Bird, and no timetable has been set for the 13-year veteran's return.
Gavitt said tests confirmed the earlier belief that Bird has inflammation resulting from a fall or falls.
In a news conference to announce the move of Bird to the injured list just before a game with the Sacramento Kings, Gavitt emphasized that the former Indiana State All-America's problem was caused by a fall in practice last month and is not related to back surgery he underwent last June 7.
"It is not surgically related," Gavitt said. "Larry saw Dr. Alexander Wright [who performed the surgery last June], and we will treat the injury with anti-inflammatories and rest.
"We haven't talked about how long his being on the IR will last. We did come away from the tests feeling good about the results, however.
"Larry's encouraged by the results and if there's a positive out of this it's that Larry has heard the message: don't minimize symptom. Last Friday he was hurting big time, but even after he saw the team doctor he still wanted to play."
Bird recovered from surgery, then signed a two-year contract extension worth more than $8 million. After the fall in practice, he missed his first game in New York last month. Then he was forced to miss losses to Cleveland at home last Friday and in Minnesota on Saturday.
With Kevin McHale also sidelined with a leg injury suffered in Minnesota, the Celtics activated reserve guard Kevin Pritchard for the game with Sacramento.
* 76ERS: Center Jeff Ruland, who retired after suffering a knee injury in 1986, was signed.
Ruland, 33, who came to the 76ers in a trade from the Washington Bullets, underwent an operation last summer and says his left knee can withstand the rigors of NBA play.
He signed a multiyear contract and will join the 76ers at practice today, said team spokesman Jodi Silverman. She would not release terms of the contract.