For M. Price, retirement not an option Injured Bullets guard looks toward next season

February 25, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

BOWIE -- The season is likely over for Washington Bullets point guard Mark Price, who is recovering from a broken bone in his left foot. But Price said he never seriously has thought about retirement and is looking forward to playing next season, whether it's with Washington or another team.

Price had been in seclusion since it was discovered that he had suffered a broken bone in his left foot during a Jan. 24 game against the Hornets in Charlotte. It was the same foot he had surgery on to repair a torn plantar fascia, which forced him on the injured list at the start of the season.

The four-time NBA all-star, who was limited to seven games this season, was at practice yesterday on crutches and with a cast on his left foot.

Speaking to the media for the first time since the injury was diagnosed, Price said he never seriously considered leaving the game.

"It crossed my mind for about an hour," Price said. "That's not the way I want to walk away from the game. I want to walk away on my terms. If there's an opportunity for me to play and I can get myself together, I'd like to."

But Price said he will not play again until he's pain-free, which was not the case when he made his Washington debut Jan. 10 after missing the first part of the season, Before coming back, Price had said repeatedly that he would not return until he was 100 percent -- advice that he did not heed.

"I think everybody felt I came back too soon," Price said. "It was my fault I wanted to come back. I wanted to help, and that may have clouded my thinking."

Price said doctors not associated with the team have told him that he came back too soon, but he refuses to blame team doctors who had a say in his return this season.

"[Team doctors] can go to a certain level, then at some point a person has to decide to play. I'm not going to sit here and point a finger for a decision I felt I made," Price said. "This time I'm going to wait until I feel good, until my body says it's OK, and then I'll go from there."

The question is where. Price, who came from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Washington's first-round pick in this year's draft, becomes an unrestricted free agent after the season. There have been rumors that he would like to play in Atlanta, where he has a home.

"That hasn't come from me, not to say I'm not interested," Price said. "I'd be interested here. A lot depends on the Bullets. I'm open to anything."

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