Burns, T. Jordan camp out, hoping to pitch NBA tent


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- When Evers Burns was a member of the Sacramento Kings and tried to post up Gheorghe Muresan back in December, the Washington Bullets' 7-foot-7 center made his 6-8 counterpart eat a couple of shots.

So the Maryland and Woodlawn High School product knew just what to do during a recent game here at the Doral Arrowwood Summer League, taking the slower Muresan off the dribble and scoring on two straight trips.

"I knew exactly how to get around him," Burns said. "And you have to, because he's a big guy."

Hours later, Thomas Jordan, a former Lake Clifton High star who played well on a couple of 10-day contracts with the Philadelphia 76ers two years ago, was teaching New Jersey Nets center Dwayne Schintzius the art of playing the low post. On two straight possessions, Jordan demonstrated Hakeem Olajuwon-like footwork, scoring easily over his 7-2 counterpart.

"Basic, fundamental moves," Jordan would say later. "It's just that some players don't know stuff like that."

But dozens of players have attempted to show their stuff during the league, sponsored by the New York Knicks, which attracted six NBA teams and ended last night. Young veterans (Doug Overton, Lee Mayberry), first-round picks (Charlie Ward, Sharone Wright) and players with just a taste of NBA experience (Gerald Paddio, Brian Oliver) have sought to impress their teams or draw interest from other teams. Playing time is limited, leaving little room for error.

Burns was here representing the 76ers, a young team in need of help in all areas. Just over a year ago, he was in a similar situation as a second-round pick with the Kings, but wasn't in the best of shape when he reported and eventually was let go during the season. A bit wiser to the ways of the NBA, Burns is hoping his second chance will bring better results.

"The difference now is fighting for a job," said Burns, who played in Italy after the Kings dropped him. "I know the things that I needed to work on -- defense, little techniques of rebounding and working to become a quicker jumper."

Such improvements come with being in top condition, an area Burns made sure to take care of.

"I was in a lot better shape going into this camp than last year," Burns said. "Unlike last year, now I'm forced to go out and sell myself. Now, I realize my body is my business."

Conditioning never has been a problem for Jordan, who left Oklahoma State in 1989 after two seasons and has enjoyed a lucrative career overseas. At 6-10 and 235 pounds, Jordan possesses an ideal NBA body.

He was here representing the Knicks, a team he was wary of after being notified by his agent.

"It's one of those things where do you want to try to go with a team that barely lost an NBA championship and probably doesn't need a whole lot," Jordan said. "But my agent knows Ed Tapscott [New York's director of player personnel], and that's how we worked it out."

Jordan's biggest game of his NBA career, which consisted of a pair of 10-day contracts, came against the Knicks two seasons ago, when he scored 20 points. He was in the Minnesota Timberwolves camp last season, and though he has demonstrated the talent to play in the league, he's been content with the steady pay overseas.

"Over there, it's a situation where I know I'm going to get some minutes," said Jordan, who played in Spain last year.

But that doesn't mean Jordan has counted out the NBA.

"I think I'd like to give it a shot, because I feel it would really help my game," Jordan said. "I just can't believe that some guys can sit on the end of NBA benches and not improve, because you have so many coaches you're able to take advantage of. One season in the NBA, and I think I'd be really good."

Only time will tell for Jordan and Burns, who now await an invitation to camps in the fall.

"I thought Philadelphia would be the best situation for me, and I would hope to come here," Burns said. "But if I have to go back to Europe, I will. I'm not going to close any of my options."

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