WALTHAM, Mass. — Larry Bird fractured a bone in his back five minutes into his first scrimmage at the Boston Celtics' summer camp Saturday night and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks.
Bird, who missed almost all of last season with heel problems, was hurt when he collided with Kelvin Upshaw and fell to the floor.
"I'm going to have to get together with our doctor and get a full report," Boston Coach Jimmy Rodgers said, "and then go in the washroom and throw up."
Bird, three-time NBA Most Valuable Player, missed all but six games last season. Without him, the Celtics didn't clinch a playoff berth until the final day of the regular season, then were swept in three games by the Detroit Pistons in the opening round.
X-rays showed that Bird suffered a fracture of the transverse process in his lower back, Celtic spokesman Jeff Twiss said, adding that treatment will involve rest, massage, medication, electrical stimulation and application of ice.
No disk or neurological problems were found.
The Celtics' camp runs through Tuesday night, but Twiss said Bird will return home to Indiana.
After being hurt, Bird answered, "Sore," when asked how he felt. He got into a car and was driven away by Dr. Arnold Scheller, the Celtics' team physician.
Bird's only comment after the X-rays was, "That's the way it goes."
Bird and Celtic coaches had hoped that the seven scrimmages planned through Tuesday night would give an indication of how far he had progressed from surgery on both heels last Nov. 19.
Rodgers said that before camp began, "I couldn't ask for anything more positive because he felt entirely ready to get back.
"It's buzzards' luck to have something like that happen. It's kind of a freakish thing."
If Bird is sidelined six weeks, he will not return until mid-September, less than a month before the Celtics open their training camp on Oct. 6. They open the regular season Nov. 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks in Boston.
The back injury "changes Larry's rehabilitation and his workout program," Rodgers said. "He's going to have to stay away from all the work now, and that will disrupt his total rehabilitation."
Trainer Eddie Lacerte: "His activity will be severely restricted."
Bird was near his own basket when he and Upshaw, who was playing on Bird's team, collided. Bird grimaced and got up slowly but continued to play for about a minute. He then left the gym to have his back checked.
Before he injured his back, Bird said his rehabilitation was coming along, but that he was still feeling occasional discomfort in his right foot. Scheller said that was because there has been unanticipated bone growth in the heel area since the surgery.