Bobcats’ Clifford to coach after heart procedure

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said he is ready to return to coaching just three days after a procedure to have two stents placed in his heart,

Clifford said he will coach Monday night when the Bobcats host the Atlanta Hawks.

“I feel fine,” Clifford said following Monday’s shoot around. “I haven’t had any pain, even minor pain, since the incident.”

Clifford, 52, said he was taken by ambulance to the hospital Thursday night after experiencing chest pains while dining at a Charlotte restaurant. The following day doctors inserted the stents to prevent blockage to the heart.

“I had significant pain in my chest and I was having trouble breathing,” Clifford said. “So it was scary enough where I had them call 911. And I was lucky that I did. … Once I got the hospital I felt good.”

Clifford said he feels lucky that he acted as quickly as he did, knowing the incident could have been worse had he ignored the warning signs.

“At least I got a warning signal,” Clifford said. “Things worked out well. The doctors have me on a good plan and I’m going to follow it.”

He said he will need to change his diet.

“I will have to, but it’s only been two days and obviously it hasn’t shown up yet,” he said with a laugh as he rubbed his stomach.

Clifford only missed one game _ a 101-91 loss Friday night to the New York Knicks. Associate head coach Patrick Ewing filled in for Clifford.

Doctors advised Clifford to take it easy, which won’t be easy considering the Bobcats have four games in six days.

Clifford is in his first season with the Bobcats. He was hired to replace Mike Dunlap, who was fired after the Bobcats finished 21-61 last season.

Clifford isn’t the only one returning Monday night.

He said center Al Jefferson, who missed five games with an ankle injury, will start against Atlanta.

Jefferson could give the Bobcats (3-3) an added boost in Clifford’s return.

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