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Olajuwon Out for Month With Fracture Behind Eye

January 05, 1991| From Associated Press

Houston Rocket center Akeem Olajuwon will be sidelined for at least a month after suffering a fracture behind his right eye.

General Manager Steve Patterson said Friday that Olajuwon has a "blowout fracture of the floor and the medial wall of the right orbit which houses the eyeball" as a result of an elbow thrown by Bill Cartwright of the Chicago Bulls in Thursday night's game at Houston.

Patterson said he hopes Olajuwon will be back in time for the All-Star game in mid-February.

Team physician Charles Baker said no surgery is anticipated. He said Olajuwon needs complete rest for the fracture to heal.

Ophthalmologist Robert B. Gillett, who was among a team of physicians examining Olajuwon Friday morning, found no permanent damage to the right eye. He said Olajuwon did not suffer any visual impairment.

Patterson said Olajuwon was resting at home Friday. Olajuwon's eye remains swollen, but he is able to see out of it, he said.

"He took a serious blow to the eye," Patterson said.

Patterson said there will be no immediate changes to the Rockets' roster.

"The guys that are here are going to have to suck it up and do it," Patterson said.

Olajuwon was released from Park Plaza Hospital earlier Friday, hospital spokeswoman Ann Wheeler said.

He was knocked unconscious and suffered a bruised cheek, a black eye and a bloody nose when he collided with Cartwright as the two went for a rebound in the third quarter.

Olajuwon was knocked to the floor, but referees failed to notice his injury and play continued to the Bulls' end of the court.

As the play returned to the Rockets' territory, Cartwright tripped over Olajuwon, who was still lying on the court. Olajuwon managed to pull himself off the court before again losing consciousness.

Olajuwon, who had 20 points and 10 rebounds before he was injured, was carried off the court on a stretcher. Houston went on to win, 114-92.

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