Elliott Sticking With Spurs

Saying he feels great a year after a kidney transplant and wants the challenge of basketball in his life, Sean Elliott announced Thursday that he will return to the San Antonio Spurs for at least one more season.

The 32-year-old forward, who made an unprecedented comeback by rejoining his team last March, said he's just not ready to retire.

"I love the challenge. I need something to challenge me," said Elliott, a standout perimeter player who helped the Spurs win their first NBA title in 1999. "I think a lot of guys are like that. We just love to go out there and play the game.

"I'd say a majority of the people in this league retire because they can't play anymore. I can still play."

The 6-foot-8 Elliott, who is entering his 12th NBA season, reportedly will earn $5 million this year, the final year of his contract. He said he has made no decisions about playing beyond this year.

Elliott become the first professional athlete in a major sport to return to competition following a kidney transplant when he came back for the final weeks of last season, but never regained top form. He averaged six points and 2.5 rebounds in 19 games, well down from his career averages of 14.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.

"You have to remember that he sat and didn't play for a very long time," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He was rusty, for lack of a better term. He's been playing this summer. He stayed in shape this summer. He comes back to us at training camp just like everybody else, ready to go."

Elliott, who recently finished a week of practice at Pete Newell's Big Man camp in Hawaii, worked out Thursday with Popovich and some teammates, running the stairs in the Alamodome.

Though he felt "1,000 percent sure" that he would retire at the end of last season, Elliott said he was swayed by Tim Duncan's decision earlier this month to re-sign with the Spurs for at least three more years.

"Obviously Tim coming back is the biggest factor," Elliott said. "If he wasn't coming back, I wouldn't be here. ... Without him, we're not contenders. I mean, that's obvious. So you just don't want to play your last year fighting for a playoff spot."

The Spurs were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last season. Duncan missed the entire series with torn knee cartilage.

Elliott had suffered from focal glomerulosclerosis, a disease that prevents the kidneys from properly filtering waste from the blood. He needed a transplant or faced the prospect of dialysis.

Last August, he received a kidney from his older brother, Noel.

In announcing Elliott's decision to rturn this fall, Popovich called him "a miracle man."

"I have a great deal of respect for his competitiveness and uncommon desire," Popovich said. "Our entire organization is thrilled that he will be back this season."


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