For the record, Barros can rap with the best


When finally given the chance to show his talents on the court, Dana Barros has shown he can be one of the finest point guards in the league, with his 19.8-point average leading the Philadelphia 76ers.

But can he challenge Shaquille O'Neal? Well, maybe in the rap world.

Philadelphia's 5-foot-11 point guard is featured on the album "NBA's Best Kept Secrets," a compilation of raps from NBA players.

Some of the players have bigger names (Orlando Magic teammates O'Neal and Dennis Scott and Dallas Mavericks rookie Jason Kidd), but for rap potential, Barros and Los Angeles Lakers forward Cedric Ceballos stand out.

"They called me," Barros said of his involvement. "We did a song for the team in Seattle [he was with the Sonics for four seasons] and I guess people had liked it." said Barros, a communications major at Boston College who has a small eight-track recording studio at his home.

He has two cuts on "Best Kept Secrets," a solo rap called "Check It," and a song "Flow On" that he recorded with Ceballos and other rappers.

"Hopefully, I'll do some more, if this goes all right," said Barros, who, along with Ceballos, had to be rushed out the back door of a Philadelphia hip-hop club they were performing at Saturday when a fight broke out.

His play this season could provide a lot of options. Teams are always in search of decent point guards, and if Barros maintains his steady play he could find himself in big demand after the season. He's quick, has a nice outside shot and is a decent passer (7.5 assists, 13th in the league).

With Washington Bullets point guard Scott Skiles hinting at retirement at season's end, seeing Barros in a Bullets uniform is a possibility.

"I like what the Bullets have done, they have a young team, a lot of talent and they're going in the right direction," Barros said.

"But I'm so into Philadelphia that thinking about another team would be funny to me. I think I'll be in Philadelphia next year, but when the situation comes up I think I would do what's best in terms of myself and my family."

Big challenge

Last week wasn't one to remember for Mavericks center Lorenzo Williams.

In consecutive games, Williams, who is 6-9 and weights 200 pounds (5 pounds less than point guard Kidd), went up against three of the best centers in the game: David Robinson, O'Neal and Patrick Ewing.

Robinson scored 43 points, but the Mavericks beat the San Antonio Spurs, 108-103. Three nights later, O'Neal scored 42 points in a 108-97 win by the Magic. And two nights after that Williams was able to "hold" Ewing to 36 points in a 117-91 loss to the New York Knicks.

"When you face three All-Star centers in a row," said Williams, who has played in the U.S. Basketball League, the Global Basketball Association and the Continental Basketball Association, "that's a tough task for anybody."

Payback time

Teams that were dominated by the Bulls and Michael Jordan during Chicago's three straight championship seasons are getting their revenge.

Already this season, the Bullets ended a 15-game losing streak to the Bulls; the New Jersey Nets a 19-game road losing streak in Chicago; the Los Angeles Clippers a 17-game road losing streak in Chicago; the Milwaukee Bucks a 16-game road losing streak in Chicago; the Mavericks a 12-game overall losing streak; and the Indiana Pacers an eight-game home losing streak.

"There's no such thing as teams the Bulls should beat," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said.

On the other hand, the Bulls have beaten the Magic, Knicks, Phoenix Suns, Spurs and Houston Rockets.

Go figure.

Tale of the tape

Before last week's win over the Rockets in Houston, Knicks guard John Starks sat down for the first time to watch a tape of his 0-for-11 performance from three-point range in Game 7 of last year's NBA Finals.

"It calmed me down a little bit just seeing it," Starks said before last week's nationally televised rematch. "It helped me put things in perspective. I didn't watch it again, though. Once was enough."

It showed in last week's 93-77 win. Starks had 22 points on 9-for-17 shooting and hit all three of his three-point attempts.

Starks still thinks the Knicks are better than Houston, which amused Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon.

"In the championship game, when they needed him to score, he didn't," Olajuwon said. "You cannot change that. You have to look forward. Don't look back."

Fresh start

When the starting lineups for the Feb. 12 All-Star Game are announced Thursday, Suns guard Dan Majerle might find himself doing something he hasn't done for a while -- starting before the home fans.

With 516,441 votes, Majerle is second among Western Conference guards and probably will join teammate Charles Barkley (862,273 votes, tops among Western players) in the starting lineup.

Majerle, along with Danny Manning, were moved from starting roles to the bench earlier this season.

"Awesome, isn't it?" Majerle said of the possible start. "That would be a good story. That would be sweet."

Detroit Pistons rookie Grant Hill has 1,000,019 votes in the latest tally, the first player to go over 1 million for the game. But a sore left foot has kept Hill out of Detroit's lineup since Jan. 5.

Quotes of the week

Orlando's O'Neal, responding to a comment from Spurs forward Dennis Rodman that the All-Star center does not rebound as well as he should given his size and strength:

"Me responding to Rodman is like talking to a Bugs Bunny doll. I don't like to talk to Looney Tunes."

Clippers forward Lamond Murray, when told that he was selected to play in the rookie all-star game: "Do I get paid?"

Ah, a sign of the times.

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