NBA Legends a success: Everyone left in one piece


SALT LAKE CITY -- The Schick Legends Classic won by the East, 58-45, last night was considered an unqualified success: Everyone left the floor in one piece.

There had been talk of disbanding the NBA old-timers annual basketball picnic after two former stars -- David Thompson and Norm Nixon -- injured their knees in last year's event at Orlando.

"We talked things over before the game with our coaches -- Joe Mullaney and Frank Layden -- and we made sure no one would go crazy out there this year," said former Bullets and 76ers guard Wali Jones. "We were just out there to have fun and share old memories and lies."

Jones, now a community director for the Miami Heat, remembered the bizarre circumstances of how he got traded to Philadelphia after spending one season (1964-65) in Baltimore.

"Truthfully, being from Philly, I wasn't happy playing as a rookie in Baltimore. So when the next season rolled 'round, I hid out in the Seattle area.

"My old high school teammate, Larry Hazzard, found me there, and said, 'Get your butt back to Philadelphia and play some ball.' And the Bullets wound up trading me for Red Kerr."

Coaching the winning East team was Mullaney, a former Lo Angeles Lakers mentor who also had brief ties with Baltimore as coach of the ill-fated Claws of the ABA. The team folded after playing only three preseason games.

"That was one of the worst experiences of my coaching career, said Mullaney, who compiled a 317-158 record at Providence College. "The [Claws] owners really stiffed us. I wound up with a $4,100 moving bill from Memphis to Baltimore after one of their checks bounced."

Mullaney said the Claws players, who included former Dunba whiz Skip Wise, never knew when they'd get per diem or be tossed out of their rooms.

"The team held a meeting everyday deciding whether they should practice before being paid," he said. "It was a real nightmare. I was just lucky to escape."

But Mullaney was back in the "big leagues" last night, and h was making sure he had a tape of his latest victory.

Incidentally, George "Ice" Gervin now working in the Spurs fron office, led the East with 14 points. The Bullets, short a guard, just might be interested.

Malone a shooting star

Jeff Malone of the Utah Jazz won the Shooting Stars Showdown yesterday. Malone defeated Tim Hardaway of Golden State, Indiana's Reggie Miller and Portland's Clyde Drexler in the charity event in which players shot from predetermined spots on the floor.

Expansion on hold

The NBA will consider expansion, but Commissioner David Stern said it is unlikely to happen soon.

"It's great to be wanted," Stern said, "and we've heard from cities ranging from Vancouver, Toronto and St. Petersburg, Fla. But we're not pushing anything on the owners. If you asked me, I'd say it will happen in the next decade."

Stern also discounted the possibility of expanding to Europe soon, despite the mounting interest in the NBA.

"We can do international commerce without having teams there," Stern said. "We can have a great relationship with our European friends without promoting ourselves as people who are going to beat them up."

Shaq attack

East coach Pat Riley may not win any diplomacy awards in insisting his New York center Patrick Ewing deserved to start over Orlando rookie sensation Shaquille O'Neal, who won the fans' vote.

"If it was up to me, I'd start Patrick," Riley said.

"I think he's the best center, the most versatile and doesn't get the credit he deserves. Starting shouldn't have to depend on a fans' phenomena."

Pressing matter

One thing Phoenix superstar Charles Barkley says he doesn't miss about Philadelphia is the sports media.

"When I was playing there, the reporters would always ask, 'What's wrong with the 76ers?' I'd tell them, 'We're a bad team,' and then I'd get ripped for it.

"When things are going good, everybody loves you. But oncyou screw up, they treat you like maggots."

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