Bullets selling fans on Adams-Ellison ticket All-Star voting of primary concern


BOWIE -- Team president Susan O'Malley is taking her job seriously as the unofficial campaign manager for Washington Bullets point guard Michael Adams and Pervis Ellison, in their bids to make the 1991-92 NBA Eastern Conference All-Star team.

In the current issue of the Bulletin -- the team publication distributed to season-ticket holders -- O'Malley recommends that fans marking ballots not vote heavily for any rival guards or centers as "second choices" to Adams and Ellison. She also has spirited ballots away whenever the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons appear at the Capital Centre, when a preponderance of the fans favor the visitors.

But O'Malley may be overzealous in trying to influence voters. It appears that Adams, one of the premier guards in the league, will make the All-Star team on his own, while Ellison, fast gaining a reputation as one of the best young, big men in the league, should receive serious consideration from Eastern Conference coaches in filling out the 12-man squad.

In the most recent All-Star tabulations, Adams was a distant second to Bulls superstar Michael Jordan but had a comfortable 67,000-vote margin over third-place Isiah Thomas of the Pistons. The first two vote-getters are guaranteed All-Star starting jobs.

Among centers, Ellison was running fourth behind the New York Knicks' Patrick Ewing, New Jersey Nets' Sam Bowie and Cleveland Cavaliers' Brad Daugherty.

But Ellison's impressive statistics -- 20.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 2.86 blocks per game -- put him on almost equal footing with Ewing and Daugherty while easily surpassing Bowie.

Adams, in the East after spending the previous three seasons with the Denver Nuggets, deserved to make the All-Star team last season on the strength of his averages of 26.5 points, 10.5 assists and 2.23 steals for the Nuggets. But the 5-foot-10 point guard is not bitter about the oversight.

"Last season, the Nuggets didn't win many games and our team had a low profile around the league," he said. "Not making the All-Star team was disappointing, but not something I dwelled on.

"In a way, I'm in a similar position here. We haven't won a lot of games at this point, and that's my prime concern. I feel that if I keep going out there, doing a good job and putting up decent numbers, recognition will come."

Before he suffered an injury to his left hand, Adams was challenging Jordan for the league scoring lead. He is still averaging 22.8 points, to go with 8.8 assists a game.

Ellison, a 6-foot-10 center rebounding from a sore knee that sidelined him for three games, turned it up a notch on last week's four-game trip, when he averaged 23.8 points, 11.3 rebounds and 3.5 blocks to be named Player of the Week.

Asked about his prospects of making the All-Star team, he said: "Frankly, I don't think I deserve it. To be an All-Star, I don't think it should be based on half a season's work. I might have better stats now than say, [Boston's] Robert Parish, but his team is in first place, and he's done it over the long haul, just like Ewing. I'm still proving myself."

But Ellison gets strong support from Bullets management.

"I keep getting calls and questions about how well Pervis has performed this season," said general manager John Nash, who negotiated the 1990 three-team trade that brought Ellison from the Sacramento Kings and moved high-scoring guard Jeff Malone from Washington to the Utah Jazz.

"But Pervis really started coming into his own the last two months of last season, when he averaged over 15 points and nine rebounds a game," Nash said. "Now he is probably the most improved big man in the league."

At season's end, Nash and the Bullets coaching staff evaluated all the players in the league on a 1-to-10 basis.

"We had both Adams and Ellison in our top 10, with Pervis on a par with [the Miami Heat's] Rony Seikaly and [the Los Angeles Lakers'] Vlade Divac," Nash said. "I'm sure we'd rate both our players much higher at this point."

In scoring, only Ewing and Daugherty rank ahead of Ellison among Eastern centers.

"That's where I've made the most improvement," Ellison said. "In college [Louisville], rebounding and shot-blocking were always the biggest parts of my game.

"But now I'm getting comfortable in our offensive system, and scoring a lot in transition and in the flow of the game. Everything is starting to come together, but staying healthy is the key."

NOTES: G Ledell Eackles, who played little on the recent road trip, missed practice at Bowie State yesterday. Coach Wes Unseld could not explain his absence. . . . Rookie G LaBradford Smith said his left ankle, which has kept him out of all but 1 game this season, was feeling much stronger. But Unseld was not prepared to make any roster moves, with reserve G Andre Turner in the most vulnerable position. Veteran F Mark Alarie, on the injured list after September knee surgery, said he can run in a straight line, but that cutting still produces pain.

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