Sampson says adios, leaves team for Spain


LANDOVER -- Ralph Sampson's comeback attempt with the Washington Bullets ended last night when the 7-foot-4 reserve center chose to join an unspecified team in the Spanish Basketball League for the remainder of the season.

Originally Sampson had been offered a $225,000 contract by Malaga, reports said, but he was uncertain in which Spanish city he would be resuming his playing career.

He was certain, however, that he would get a better opportunity to work himself back into shape in Europe than he did in his time with the Bullets. He played a total of 109 minutes in 10 games since joining the team as a free agent Nov. 19.

"Playing in Europe, I should be able to average 35 minutes a game," he said. "That way, I hope I can get my play back to a certain level and work my way back to the NBA next year, preferably in Washington, which I consider home."

Sampson, still due $5 million over the next eight years from the Sacramento Kings, anticipated that the Bullets might waive him this Tuesday, the deadline for waiving players or paying them their full salary.

"The Bullets have three guys with guaranteed contracts on the injured list," said Sampson, referring to forwards Bernard King, Mark Alarie and Tom Hammonds. "I'm not stupid. I know their situation."

Sampson, the first pick in the 1983 NBA draft, by the Houston Rockets, after an All-America career at Virginia, expressed no bitterness over his handling by the Bullets.

"I realize they have some good young players and are working some of their injured guys back into the lineup," he said. "I had hopes of getting 20 minutes behind Pervis Ellison, but it didn't work out."

The Bullets made a minor gamble by signing him for the $130,000 minimum, but missing training camp proved a major handicap for the Harrisonburg, Va., native.

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