Dominique knows LT faces long rehab road

November 10, 1992|By Barry Meisel | Barry Meisel,New York Daily News

NEW YORK -- Dominique Wilkins said Lawrence Taylor can make it back from a ruptured Achilles' tendon, but it won't be easy. The Atlanta Hawks' 32-year-old superstar should know.

On Jan. 28 of this year in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wilkins suffered virtually the exact injury the New York Giants linebacker did Sunday. Out for the remainder of the season, Wilkins went through six months of grueling rehabilitation and recovered fully in time for last week's NBA season start.

"It was rough," Wilkins said yesterday from his suburban Atlanta home. "Mentally, it was more rough for me than anything else. There were times I got depressed and I'd think, 'It's not worth it.' But at other points, I was determined. I had to totally block all the other stuff out."

By other stuff, he meant the doubts about being as great a player as he was before the major injury. Wilkins had one very important factor going for him coming out of surgery that LT will not: Wilkins wanted to play again.

"I sympathize with him," he said. "He can come back, but it depends on him. It's a lot of work. If he decides he wants to come back . . . I think he can do it."

Wilkins doesn't know LT well, but he has met him several times. He last saw Taylor last summer at a charity basketball game that Wilkins runs in Atlanta.

"I don't think Lawrence is the type who isn't used to hard work," he said. "I'd tell him to get a good doctor."

LT's surgeon today was Dr. Russell Warren, Giants team physician.

Dr. Jack Hughston performed the procedure on Wilkins. It took approximately 90 minutes.

His leg was placed in a cast, but he began rehabilitating three weeks after the surgery.

"There was a lot of water therapy, a lot of swimming and whirlpool and water massages," Wilkins said.

Like Taylor, Wilkins got hurt without anybody hitting him. Like Taylor, he felt an incredible burning sensation that made him feel like his leg was on fire. And like Taylor, he completely severed the tendon. "I couldn't describe the pain," he said. "Mine was shredded like a mop."

Given that he and Taylor were both over 30 years old when injured, Wilkins found a bright spot to one of the darkest injuries an aging pro athlete can suffer.

"It adds a couple of years to your career," Wilkins said. "It gives your body a chance to rest."

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