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Ex-UA star Sean Elliott moves closer to return

By The Associated Press
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
February 24, 2000
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Sean Elliott is practicing harder, and he predicts he can rejoin the San Antonio Spurs in three weeks.

Elliott, trying to become the first pro athlete to return to his sport after a kidney transplant, said Wednesday he needs more weeks like this one, with back-to-back practices.

''Tuesday's practice was a monster,'' said Elliott, who went through grueling drills that day with the reserves.

Elliott practiced again Wednesday with the full team before the Spurs left for a three-game road trip to Charlotte, Chicago and Minnesota.

No specific timetable has been set by the 32-year-old forward or coach Gregg Popovich. Popovich certainly does not want to be locked in to Elliott's prediction for a return in three weeks.

''I can't on a day-to-day basis say he improved X percent,'' Popovich said. ''We're going to wait until the beginning of March, evaluate him again and then we'll give everybody an idea of where he's at.''

Elliott resumed full practices with the team in early February.

He had to sign a waiver releasing the Spurs from liability should he be injured during his comeback. He is making $6.2 million this season and is to make $5 million next season, the last year of his contract.

Elliott received a kidney from his brother, Noel, on Aug. 16. Elliott had focal segmental glomerular sclerosis, which prevents the kidneys from properly filtering waste from the blood. Without the transplant, he soon would have undergone kidney dialysis.

Elliott made some key plays last year in helping San Antonio win its first NBA championship.

Nearly falling out of bounds, he hit a game-winning 3-point shot during the Western Conference finals against Portland. Elliott averaged 11.9 points in the playoffs.

Before returning to practice, Elliott worked as a TV commentator for the Spurs. All the while, he said, he felt he was part of the team and wanted to play.

''There was a point then when I was watching the games and I just tried to shut off my feelings,'' he said. ''That wasn't possible.''

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