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The NBA : Bench Is No Place for Barkley at All-Star Game

February 09, 1988|Chris Baker

Forward Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers, who played just 15 minutes off the bench in Sunday's National Basketball Assn. All-Star game in Chicago, said he'll skip next year's game unless he's named to the starting lineup.

"What a waste of time," Barkley said after he got four points and three rebounds. "I could have been home watching TV.

"When I made the team (for the first time) last year I was excited and I wanted to play well. I went to bed at 10 the night before the game and I played 16 minutes.

"This year I went out on the town (the night before the game) and got back at 4 in the morning and I still played 15 minutes."

Barkley had trouble adjusting to a reserve role.

"I'm not meant to be a reserve," Barkley said. "It's no fun playing if you're not a starter.

Even though Barkley is one of the NBA's elite players, he'll have a tough time cracking the starting lineup for next year's All-Star game because the Eastern Conference is loaded at forward with Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics and Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks.

More Barkley: A middle-aged business-type shared an elevator in an Indianapolis hotel with Barkley and a few of his Philadelphia 76er teammates following their game against the Indiana Pacers last Thursday night.

The man, who was staying on a private floor, couldn't get his key to make the elevator stop at the private floor.

"You've got the key in upside down," Barkley said.

"Thanks," replied the man. "Hey, you're Charles Barkley."

Replied: Barkley: "Say, you're Tom Landry."

Guard Dale Ellis of the Seattle SuperSonics, the NBA's sixth leading scorer, was angry when he was bypassed for the All-Star game.

Ellis, averaging 26.1 points, had cause since he was the only player among the NBA's top 10 scorers who wasn't selected to play in the game.

Ellis decided that he would boycott the NBA's long distance shooting contest to protest, but changed his mind and arrived in Chicago on Saturday morning.

Ellis was the runner-up in the contest to Bird.

Nat (Sweetwater) Clifton, a former Harlem Globetrotter who helped to break the color barrier in the NBA when he signed with the New York Knicks in the 1950's drives a cab in Chicago.

Clifton attended the NBA's All-Star weekend as the guest of Commissioner David J. Stern.

Magic Johnson beat out Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls as the NBA MVP last season, but Jordan is the leading candidate for the award this season.

Jordan, the NBA's leading scorer, outdistanced Boston's Larry Bird and Johnson in a Chicago Sun-Times midseason poll of 80 NBA beat writers and broadcasters who vote for the season-ending NBA awards.

Jordan led with 296 votes and Bird, a three-time MVP got 280, followed by Magic with 264. Barkley was fourth (91), followed by Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks (64) and Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets (25). Voting was based on a five-point system, with first place votes worth five points and second place votes counting four.

Pat Riley of the Lakers was the run-away choice as coach of the year. Riley, who has never won the award in six seasons, had 24 votes. Mike Fratello of the Atlanta Hawks and Bernie Bickerstaff of the Seattle SuperSonics were tied for second with nine votes apiece and Denver's Doug Moe got seven votes.

Laker guard Michael Cooper, who was named the NBA's best defensive player last season, is the early favorite to earn the award again. Cooper (31 votes) had a big lead over Jordan (13) and San Antonio Spurs guard Alvin Robertson (12).

Cooper was the runner-up behind Dallas swingman Roy Tarpley in the balloting for the sixth man award. Tarpley had 34 votes and Cooper got 22.

Mark Jackson of the New York Knicks was an overwhelming choice to win rookie of the year honors with 71 votes. Guard Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers, a former UCLA star, finished second with three votes and Sacramento's Kenny Smith got two.

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