Lewis might seek 3rd opinion Wants to control life, not leave it to Celtics

May 16, 1993|By Boston Globe

BOSTON -- The days have turned into weeks, and still there is nothing certain. All Reggie Lewis knows for sure is that he fainted during a playoff game and his case has become the most celebrated -- and complicated -- medical story in the history of Boston sports.

Lewis said yesterday that he has not ruled out seeking a third opinion before he decides whether to return to the Boston Celtics next fall, and he acknowledged that his story will remain an active topic for months.

"I know this thing is never going to go away until I step on the basketball floor," said Lewis, the former Dunbar High standout. "And even then, everyone is going to be watching to see if I collapse again. But I'm not going to worry about that. I'm just going to take this summer to get in the best shape possible."

During an interview with Jimmy Myers on the Celtics-owned radio station, WEEI, on Friday night, Lewis took issue with the team for releasing information to the public about his condition before he had a chance to get a second opinion. He also criticized the club for preventing him and his wife, Donna Harris Lewis, from attending a meeting May 2 at New England Baptist Hospital in which specialists gathered to diagnose his condition.

He acknowledged yesterday that his trust in the organization haswithered.

"From their point of view, [the Celtics] are looking at it like they have to protect their interests," Lewis said. "I understand that. But my point of view is I want control over my own life. I don't want the Celtics saying I should do this or I should do that.

"It would have been nice to work together on something like this. But things have gotten so far out of control. The Celtics were trying to take control, and we wanted to get involved with what was going on. I had to go my own way. That was best for me and my family."

Lewis said he believes he and the Celtics can ultimately resolve their differences. "I'm not concerned about it," he said. "We'll work things out. It might just take a little time."

Although he has had contact with team officials, Lewis said the Celtics have not given any indication whether they are reluctant to authorize his return with so much speculation still surrounding his condition.

"They haven't said anything yet, but I'm sure we'll be talking soon about it," he said. "As of today, I haven't spoken to them."

What if the Celtics determine that the liability is too great to allow him to return?

"Then it's time to move on," he said. "If the Celtics say no and they feel it's too big of a risk for them, then we'll deal with it.

"One thing you learn is to never rule out any possibilities. My first year in the league was a real eye-opener for me. Guys were getting traded all the time. It makes you realize you should never get too comfortable in one place."

Lewis and his wife have been criticized for making a late-night transfer from New England Baptist Hospital, where the Celtics originally arranged his care, to Brigham and Women's Hospital, where Dr. Gilbert Mudge ultimately diagnosed Lewis as having neurocardiogenic syncope, a fainting condition that the doctor said should not prevent Lewis from playing professional basketball.

Harris Lewis said yesterday their preference was to tell Celtics team physician Arnold Scheller in person that they wanted to transfer hospitals, "but Dr. Scheller went home before we ever had the chance."

"We were at the [New England Baptist] hospital, and Dr. Scheller came in and told us Reggie had cardiomyopathy," said Harris Lewis. "He told us what that involved and told us they would notify the press.

"We were sitting there thinking, 'Wow, what are they releasing?' And at that point, we thought it would be appropriate to get a second opinion. Dr. Scheller was gone before we could ever explain that to him.

"I still don't understand why they came out with a public diagnosis that leaves room for so many questions."

Lewis said that at that point he was told he had two options: treat his condition with drugs or have a defibrillator implanted to regulate his heartbeat.

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