Isiah Thomas, the Detroit Pistons All-Star point guard, who sprained his right ankle in Game 6 of the NBA finals, said it may take a miracle for him to throw away his crutches and play against the Lakers in Game 7 tonight at the Forum.
"But I haven't given up hope and prayers yet. Maybe something will happen. If I can be effective out on a basketball court I'm going to put on a uniform; if not I'll be on the bench. If I can damn near walk I'm going to try to get out there and play."
Asked if he would consider being injected with a painkiller before the game in order to play, Thomas said, "It's been talked about, but everyone I've talked to said it wouldn't be in my best interest to do it."
Mike Abdenour, the Piston trainer, said he hasn't injected a player for any type of injury in the 13 years he's been with the club. Abdenour said it would be too risky to inject Thomas because his ankle is sprained in three places.
"It's his call," Abdenour said of Thomas. "But his call will be very simple if he's still on crutches at 5:55. That will dictate his call."
Said Piston Coach Chuck Daly: "If this was the regular season, I guess he'd miss a week to 10 days.
"I'd say 99 of 100 players would be out of the game, but maybe he's the one-third. It's very, very doubtful at this point. But knowing who he is and how he can play with pain, only the good Lord knows what will happen."
Thomas, who scored a playoff career-high of 43 points in the Pistons' 103-102 loss to the Lakers Sunday in Game 6, was injured when he stepped on the foot of Laker guard Michael Cooper in the third quarter.
"I knew when I fell down that I had done something pretty bad. I thought I broke it," Thomas said. "But I tried to block out the pain. By playing on it I don't think I damaged it anymore. It still would have been . . . up."
Abdenour began treating Thomas immediately after the game. Thomas' injured ankle was placed in a portable compression unit that combines water and ice in a boot in order to control the swelling. "We started that at 5:30 (Sunday night) and did it for seven hours along with electrical stimulation," Abdenour said. "At around 12:30 we elevated the foot of the bed.
"Isiah told me 'Mike, I think I really messed up pretty good,' " Abdenour said. "He never says anything like that."
Thomas, whose ankle had ballooned to the size of a grapefruit Monday morning, spent the day undergoing treatment at the Raiders training camp in El Segundo.
Raider officials, who have a reputation for being uncooperative with the media, ordered several reporters and photographers who had staked out the team headquarters waiting for Thomas, off Raider property.
The Pistons, however, held a press conference at the Airport Marriott hotel to accommodate the media.
Thomas, wearing a black Raiders T-shirt with the slogan, "Real Men Wear Black," looked like the March of Dimes poster boy when he limped into the ballroom to meet the press. He also had a bandage on his left cheek, the result of a bruise inflicted by Cooper in Sunday's game.
"The people with the Raiders and their staff along with Mike (Abdenour) and all the technological machines they've had me hooked up to have been doing a real good job," Thomas said. "They worked with me all day and they are also going to work with me some more tonight and tomorrow (Tuesday) morning."