NBA legend Nate “Tiny” Archibald has been living with an incurable heart disease for more than a year, the 69-year-old retired Hall of Fame player revealed to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.
Motivated by the recent deaths of peers Moses Malone, Darryl Dawkins and Dwayne “Pearl” Washington as well as health statistics provided by the National Basketball Players Association, Archibald underwent a health screening in December 2016 and was diagnosed with amyloidosis — an as-yet irreversible protein buildup that prevents his heart from properly pumping blood to his body.
“What’s happening is my heart is beating too fast and too hard,” Archibald told MacMullan. “There’s blockage in there and we gotta find a way to dissolve some of it. My heart is taking a pounding, and that blockage is going to cause it to malfunction.”
“What I have is really rare. There’s no pills, nothing they have found that works. I’m being tested all the time, just hoping, you know?
“My [heart] could go any minute. But I’m not ready for that. I want to be around for a long time.”
Archibald played 13 NBA seasons with stops in Cincinnati, Kansas City, Boston and Milwaukee, making six All-Star appearances, winning a title with Larry Bird’s Celtics in 1981 and becoming the only player ever to lead the league in scoring (34 points per game) and assists (11.4) in a single season (1972-73).
He credited the current players for working with the NBA to provide healthcare and screenings for retired players with at least three years of service. The new policy went into action in January 2017, shortly after his diagnosis. Archibald is also encouraging his fellow retirees to take advantage.
“If not for today’s players,” Archibald told MacMullan, “I don’t think a lot of us old guys would be here today. It used to be when someone passed, it was, ‘Oh, he died,’ and that’s it.
“Now we’re able to pinpoint why they are gone and realize, ‘This could have been avoided.’ I want to thank them for that. They are saving us.”
According to the NBPA, via ESPN, almost a third of retired players who underwent screenings were obese, more than a third of them aged 40 to 59 have high blood pressure and about half of the players tested over age 40 are prediabetic. Archibald’s condition, unfortunately, is far worse.
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