Said Mohr, who will shave bone spurs during the 45-minute procedure: "The average person doesn't make their entire livelihood jumping up and down on that joint. But Shaquille does. I can't think of anything more important for him."
Mohr confirmed that, while the shaving of spurs might give O'Neal's toe more motion, it still might not relieve the pain.
"If he has degenerative changes, Mother Nature only gives us one layer of cartilage," Mohr said. "Maybe he'll have better motion, but it might be painful motion, and he'll just have to keep playing through it."
It was during O'Neal's search for these answers that Hearn died. Few who attended his funeral will soon forget that Kobe Bryant was there but O'Neal was absent.
On Thursday, O'Neal willingly addressed that.
"I feel terrible I wasn't at Mr. Hearn's funeral, terrible, terrible," he said. "I had a bad personal family problem at home, and couldn't leave at that time, but I felt terrible."
He was told that many thought his absence could undermine his leadership position with the team. He cringed.
"I had never turned my back on the Lakers, not once, and not this time," he said. "I'm not that type of person. Chick was my family, everyone there is my family, and I'll always be there for them."
He said he sent hundreds of flowers, and remained home with regret.
"Like I said, I felt terrible about the whole thing," he said. "Chick is a wonderful person, and I'll never forget him."
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