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Archive for Thursday, April 16, 1998

THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC

April 16, 1998

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— Danny Manning's will is stronger than his knees.

Manning intends to make a third comeback from major knee surgery, according to his agent, Mark Bartelstein, who said a second reconstruction of the right anterior-cruciate ligament is scheduled April 23 in Los Angeles.

``There's no doubt in my mind that he'll be back and be at the All-Star caliber that he was at this year,'' Bartelstein said from his Chicago office.

Bartelstein said that Manning, 32, has not considered retirement since the versatile Suns forward suffered the injury nine days ago during the first quarter at Sacramento.

``There's no doubt in anybody's mind that he'll be back,'' Bartelstein said of the two-time NBA All-Star, who was not available for comment.

Rigorous and often painful rehabilitation is expected to take from 10 to 12 months, according to Suns physician Richard Emerson, who confirmed Tuesday that the ligament was torn.

That would mean a possible Manning return late next season -- the fourth season in a six-year, $40 million contract that runs through 2001. In a procedure called ``revision reconstruction,'' Manning is expected to receive a ligament graft from a donor, rather than tissue from his own hamstrings.

``More than likely, it will be a cadaver graft,'' said Emerson, who will assist in surgery done by Dr. Stephen Lombardo of the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic.

It twice took Manning a year to come back completely from reconstruction of both ACLs -- the right in 1989 and the left in 1995. Lombardo was the lead surgeon in each procedure. ``Of all the NBA athletes, there can't be too many who have had revisions,'' Emerson said. ``It's rare. But these people do come back. Chances of him coming back are probably as good as the original ACL.''

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