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The NBA : Newest Clipper Kite Plays Physical Game

February 16, 1988|Chris Baker

Center Greg Kite of the Clippers has always been a physical player.

"I bruised the doctor when he slapped me when I was born," Kite joked.

Kite has knocked down at least one opposing player in four games with the Clippers.

"I like rough, tough guys," Clipper Coach Gene Shue said. "I think we need a little toughness on the team."

Kite, 6-feet, 11-inches and 250 pounds, doesn't back down from anyone.

Center Akeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets gave Kite a dirty look after Kite grabbed him by the arms and hurled him to the court as he was getting ready to dunk during the Rockets' 112-105 win over the Clippers last Friday. And Kite knocked Houston guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd into a different area code when he fouled him.

"He's an East Coast-type player," Clipper guard Quintin Dailey said of Kite. "East Coast players play a lot more physical than West Coast players. And Greg is a bruiser. He doesn't even flinch when he knocks someone down."

Kite learned his style with the Boston Celtics. He played on two world championship teams during his four seasons with the Celtics.

"I don't go out to hurt anyone," Kite said. "But I've got to use my size and strength to the best advantage."

Kite's biggest individual moment came during the 1987 NBA finals, when he helped shut down Laker center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game 3 as the Celtics beat the Lakers for their first win in the series. Kite faces Abdul-Jabbar tonight when the Clippers play the Lakers at the Forum.

Kite became expendable this season when the Celtics acquired Brad Lohaus, a 7-foot rookie center.

The Clippers picked up Kite two weeks ago after the Celtics waived him. He went from a team with one of the best records in the NBA to the worst team in the league.

"I hated leaving Boston," Kite said. "But this is a great opportunity for me to get some playing time."

When Bill Russell was hired by the Sacramento Kings last season, the plan was for him to coach for three years, serve as general manager for two seasons and then take over as club president.

The Kings have struggled under Russell, and there is speculation that Russell may coach for just one more season before he joins the front office. There are also reports that Willis Reed, Russell's top assistant, is a candidate to become head coach of the New Jersey Nets.

"It (Russell's contract with Sacramento) is so flexible that it's hard to reduce to writing. He may decide one day that he doesn't need this nonsense, but I don't think so," Joe Axelson, the Kings' president, told the Sacramento Bee. "He needs something to do, something he enjoys and he still enjoys this. He's only 53 and that's too young to retire."

The Kings, who are in last place in the Midwest Division, are a lot closer making the draft lottery than they are to qualifying for the playoffs.

"I have hope," Axelson continued. "A year ago I had no hope. We had bottomed out. The players weren't listening.

"If the players stop listening now, we'll make other changes. We're aren't going to make another coaching change. Change disrupts.

"If you throw out six teams, we're as good as everybody else in the league. Our record doesn't equal the sum of our individual talent."

Guard Chris Mullin of the Golden State Warriors has been playing like an All-Star since he rejoined the team last month after spending 31 days in an alcoholism-treatment program.

Mullin, who missed 22 games, has averaged 16.3 points and 5.7 assists since returning to the team. He had 22 points and 8 assists in the Warriors' 109-95 win over Seattle last Saturday.

"I just think I'm in a good groove right now," Mullin said. "I was playing well before (he went into the clinic), but there was something holding me back. Now I'm able to play well because there are no distractions."

Mullin is handling the ball more now because of the departure of point guard Eric (Sleepy) Floyd, who was traded to Houston along with center J.B. Carroll while Mullin was gone.

"I think we've got a good blend of guys now," Mullin said of the Warriors. "Everyone is unselfish."

NBA fans can be cruel, however, Mullin said he hasn't been heckled by fans because of his alcohol problem.

"In general, people have been very nice to me," Mullin said. "People understand what happened to me. But I'm prepared for it (heckling)."

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