On the Rebound
updated 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 08/25/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT
A few weeks after the movie wrapped, however, Buddy's days as top dog were in peril: Kevin DiCicco, 34, Buddy's owner and trainer, noticed that his pet was limping after a game of hockey at their San Diego home. After a series of tests, Buddy, 9, was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma—a cancer that attacks joints and connective tissue—and last February his rear right leg was amputated. "I think I was in a daze," says DiCicco. "This is one of the most aggressive types of cancer."
Though it seemed that the stray turned star might have had his day, Buddy is now completely recovered. What's more, he can still make like Michael Jordan (albeit through a lower, seven-foot hoop) and seems unfazed by Air Bud's so-so box office success ($11.4 million in two weeks). "If he could talk," says DiCicco, "Buddy would say, 'Don't worry, I'm fine.' "