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Pippen's Back Surgery Successful


Scottie Pippen, who helped the Chicago Bulls win their sixth NBA title last month, underwent back surgery at a Chicago hospital this week, a procedure his doctor said is not career-threatening.

Dr. Michael Schafer, chairman of Northwestern Memorial Hospital's department of orthopedic surgery, performed the back operation Monday.

He

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performed similar surgery on Pippen in 1988.

"I was very pleased with the surgery. The operation was successful, and I expect Mr. Pippen will have no trouble in resuming his career," Schafer said in a statement Tuesday from Pippen's agent, Jimmy Sexton.

"He's fine," Sexton said Tuesday night, adding the Pippen, who is a free agent, should be out of the hospital Wednesday. Recovery time, he said, is expected to be 12 weeks.

"The medical people gave us glowing reports and we're optimistic it shouldn't have an effect on the way he plays basketball," Sexton said.

Pippen, who was not available for comment Tuesday, also consulted with Dr. Robert G. Watkins, a specialist in Los Angeles.

Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, approached before Tuesday night's Tampa Bay Devil Rays-Chicago White Sox game at Comiskey Park, said he did not know about Pippen's operation.

During the NBA lockout, he is not permitted to talk with players.

"I'm not allowed to comment. He's not a member of our team. He's a free agent," Reinsdorf said.

Pippen, 32, hurt his back in the NBA Finals after being knocked to the floor several times while drawing charges.

He received a cortisone injection before Game 6 and was severely limited as the Bulls beat the Utah Jazz to claim their sixth title of the 1990s.

When all non-operative alternatives were exhausted, Schaefer and Pippen made the decision to operate, according to the statement.

As he was recovering from foot surgery last November, Pippen stunned the Bulls by saying he preferred a trade and didn't want to play for the team again.

After missing the first 35 games, he backed offbut his unhappiness with team management, especially general manager Jerry Krause, didn't diminish. He was angry about a long-term contract that paid him well below market value and also miffed that he had been on the trade block last summer.

Chosen as one of the NBA's greatest 50 players, Pippen made just 2.7 million last season.

Pippen has said he would prefer to go a Western Conference team that plays an up-tempo style more conducive to his open-court skills while looking for the big contract he thinks he's always deserved as the talented sidekick of Michael Jordan.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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