Want to high-fly to bank? Surprise! Be a point guard

No longer do you have to hope your kid has the "hops" to soar through the air like Shawn Kemp or be a 7-foot brute like Shaquille O'Neal to be a well-paid star in the NBA. The only skills your kid needs today are being able to distribute the ball and consistently hit an open three-pointer.

In the NBA, those skills will amount to a lot of trips to the bank.


The point guard suddenly has become a hot commodity in the NBA, and with a dearth of players unable to handle the basics of the position, it's created an inflated market and made general managers without such a floor leader desperate.

Just ask Washington Bullets general manager John Nash. This week, he met with Dana Barros, the Philadelphia 76ers' 5-foot-9 point guard who became a double-digit scorer two seasons ago and now -- after an All-Star season -- is attempting to extract a $5 million contract. Yesterday, the Bullets turned their attention to Elliot Perry, who might be able to parlay his part-time status with the Phoenix Suns into a $2 million-a-year deal.


"My phone's been ringing off the hook," Barros' agent, Frank Catapano, said within hours of the NBA lockout lifting on Monday. "Sure, he'd like to stay in Philadelphia. But there's a lot of attention on him."

Why such a shortage of point guards? Perhaps over the past decade, as the league began to showcase its high-flying dunk artists, young players began to emulate the flashy style being marketed -- rather than concentrate on fundamentals. Which could explain the many players who simply can't hit an outside shot.

It could be that the league has over-expanded, and with teams in Toronto and Vancouver this season, the already thin talent is being stretched even further. Damon Stoudamire was a gifted player for Arizona last season, but was he really worthy of a No. 7 draft pick? With the shortage of point guards, the answer is yes.

Which is why Barros, who has started in just two of his six years in the league, and Perry, two years removed from the CBA, are about to strike it rich.

Not a Dream show

I admit, like any other basketball fan, I truly enjoy watching the Houston Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon doing his fancy footwork around the low post. And I admit I've come to respect the developing skills of Orlando's O'Neal.

But giving up $39.99 to watch these two go one-on-one on pay-per-view next week (it'll cost as much as $400 to sit courtside), I think I'll pass.

They'll play at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., with the Los Angeles Lakers' Nick Van Exel and the New Jersey Nets' Kenny Anderson squaring off in what's billed as an East-West Showdown, and ex-Terp Joe Smith facing Kevin Garnett in the Rookie Challenge.


I can just picture O'Neal slapping Olajuwon during the pre-match "weigh-in." Isn't that what Atlantic City does to hype events that are duds on arrival?

Billed as a heavyweight main event, the O'Neal-Olajuwon matchup features 10 two-minute "rounds" worth $100,000 each. The two "undercards" will have six rounds worth $20,000 each.

With NBA training camps starting on Oct. 6, it's hard to expect anyone to play hard for so little money (by their standards).

Police report

Seems a few players couldn't avoid staying off the police blotter.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson allegedly took a swing at a female gas station attendant on Wednesday morning in his hometown of Gary, Ind., after she demanded he turn his tape player down before she turned the gas pump on.


Angered at what he said was the tone of the demand, Robinson -- who, of course, was paying for the gas with a $100 bill -- took a swing at the woman.

Last week in Orlando, police were called to a Waffle House restaurant when a trio of point guards -- Magic reserve Brian Shaw, the Seattle SuperSonics' Gary Payton and the Dallas Mavericks' Jason Kidd -- were part of a group that allegedly caused a 4:30 a.m. disturbance.

Shaw threatened to buy the Waffle House so he could fire the workers who called the police. No charges were filed.