TORONTO -- Washington Bullets general manager John Nash yesterday defended the medical decision that cleared Chris Webber to return to the basketball court, but the injured forward has decided to see a specialist outside the team to examine his left shoulder, which he separated for a second time Saturday night.
Webber did not see team doctors yesterday, as was planned. The Bullets have scheduled another appointment for him today. But even if that examination takes place, Webber will see a Washington-area specialist who has treated shoulder injuries of other pro athletes.
"Chris has decided to seek a second opinion," said Fallasha Erwin, Webber's agent, who would not name the specialist. "He was in better spirits [yesterday]. He's feeling pretty good, although he knows it will be some time before he plays."
Webber, who missed 19 games when he originally separated the shoulder last December, is eager to return. If surgery is required, Erwin said Webber would wait until after the season.
"Chris wants to get out there so badly and play," Erwin said. "He's such a competitor that I feel he'd deal with the pain for the season and wait until afterward for surgery."
Webber complained about pain in the shoulder Wednesday, the day after scuffling with Chicago's Luc Longley. Even after an examination by doctors cleared him the next day, Webber said then he intended to seek a second opinion.
He never did. And Sunday, when Webber left Toronto, where the Bullets beat the expansion Raptors last night, he sounded bitter, saying, "That's what doctors get paid for" when asked about the injury.
Nash was asked yesterday whether the Bullets may have been better off allowing Webber to rest for several days.
"I don't know that," Nash said. "Obviously, the doctors would not have allowed him to play if there was any imminent danger.
"We're going to be as cautious with Chris Webber as with any other member of this team because of what he means to this franchise. I would hope the two incidents [injuries] are not connected. Obviously, the timing of it leaves you to wonder, and yet Chris seemed to downplay the severity of the injury last Thursday, when we insisted he see the doctor."
The injury to Webber leaves the Bullets without two of their top players. Guard Mark Price was cleared in his team physical after the trade that brought him from the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier this month, but he has missed all but one practice while nursing a sore left heel that caused him to miss three games last season.
"I have every confidence in our doctors," Nash said. "Just as they've taken a cautious approach with Tim Legler [sore heel] and Mark Price, they are taking a cautious approach with Chris Webber."
Meanwhile, the league has extended the deadline from today until Thursday for the Milwaukee Bucks to make a decision on whether to keep Kevin Duckworth. The disgruntled center was traded by the Bullets to Milwaukee last week, but a Duckworth knee injury from last season was questioned by Bucks officials after a physical.