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 Monday, January 3
Elliott's hospital stay a setback
 
Associated Press

 SAN ANTONIO -- Sean Elliott's comeback road took a detour.

At this time, he was hoping to move back toward more strenuous workouts with the San Antonio Spurs in an attempt to return to the NBA after a kidney transplant.

Elliott was hospitalized four days the week before Christmas with a flu-like illness. That hospital stay and recovery period afterward hurt his conditioning, which he'd been trying to improve in an effort to return to the Spurs this season.

"It sets me back a lot," Elliott said Monday. "It was just one of the speed bumps that I had to face."

On Sunday, Elliott ran with his teammates. He was on the court again briefly Monday, but didn't participate in practice. He also has been lifting weights recently.

Before getting sick, Elliott was cleared by doctors for "friendly contact" on the practice court.

Elliott, 31, received a kidney from his 32-year-old brother Noel in August. Elliott had a condition called focal segmental glomerular sclerosis, an illness that prevents the kidneys from properly filtering waste from the blood.

He played with the worsening condition but kept quiet about its seriousness as the Spurs won the NBA championship last season. Elliott's 3-point shot as he was falling out of bounds was crucial in the Spurs' sweep of Portland in the Western Conference finals.

A return to professional sports after a kidney transplant would be unprecedented. Elliott is determined to do it.

Although he had wanted to make a comeback by midseason, now he won't offer a specific time.

Coach Gregg Popovich doesn't think it's realistic to expect Elliott back this season.

"I've always felt that it was a long shot," Popovich said. "I've always been a little nervous. But I think this last bout, just getting a little flu, I don't know if it scared Sean, but it sure made him take notice that this is a tough deal."

The December illness, which Elliott's business manager described as "secondary pneumonia," was not related to his new kidney or his body's acceptance of it, Elliott said.

"My immune system is not as strong as yours because of the anti-rejection drugs that I take," he said. "So whenever I come down with something it's just a little more extreme than a normal person."

During his absence from the court, Elliott has been doing color commentary on Spurs television broadcasts.

By nature, Elliott is cheerful and doesn't like to talk about the severity of his medical situation.

"He's such an upbeat, optimistic guy, he acts like he didn't have this operation," Popovich said. "He acts like he just had a tooth pulled.

"I think this made him step back and understand that this might be tougher than he thought."