PHILADELPHIA – Shavlik Randolph could tell immediately he broke his ankle after an awkward landing in a practice scrimmage. What he also knows is that he’ll return with the Philadelphia 76ers some time this season, no matter what the doctors tell him.

“I’m trying to make it back by the All-Star break,” Randolph said in a telephone interview Saturday. “I think I can do anything. With God, all things are possible. The doctor says he doesn’t want me walking on it for a while, but I feel like I can walk on it now.”

Randolph, who had surgery Thursday after he fractured and dislocated his left ankle in practice, said he’s wearing a splint on the ankle. He said it should come off Tuesday, and hoped to start his rehabilitation next week.

He’s been so bored already that he bought his first Xbox 360.

“I’ve never had any game systems. I’ve been too busy,” he said, laughing.

Randolph could have plenty of time to master some video games. Sixers team physician Jack McPhilemy said Randolph, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, was expected to miss up to four months. Randolph, so devout he draws a cross on his hand before every game, said he hoped to be back in the lineup for the final two months of the regular season.

“I’ve always got to try and find some positive in it,” he said. “I trust in God that, no matter how bad this is, He can turn it around and make it better than I could have thought.”

Still, returning to the Sixers by the Feb. 18 All-Star game seems a long shot. Randolph said he’d like to at least be practicing by March 1.

Randolph signed with the Sixers before last season after he went undrafted following a three-year career at Duke. He earned a new contract in the offseason and had averaged 4.5 points and 4.2 rebounds this season, starting six games in Chris Webber’s absence.

Then came the freak injury.

“I was just playing defense and I kind of jumped up to block somebody’s shot and came down on it really weird,” he said. “It didn’t hurt a whole lot. It just felt really weird and it was out of place. I guess that’s why everyone was freaking out.”

Some of the Sixers who witnessed the injury freaked out a little too much for Randolph’s liking. He said he was bothered by quotes from Andre Iguodala that compared the visual of the injury to the career-ending hit on Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann in 1985. Coach Maurice Cheeks said he had never seen an injury like it in his life.

“Everyone made it seem like I was a World War II vet,” Randolph said. “The bone did not pop out of my skin. It was not that bad, but I’m sure it freaked out a lot of guys.”

Cheeks called Randolph to wish him well and team president Billy King paid him a visit. Randolph hoped to visit the Sixers before Sunday’s game against Minnesota and let his teammates know he’ll be back soon.

“I just know the way I work, it’s an opportunity to come back before people expect,” he said.

AP-ES-12-02-06 1511EST


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