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NBA AROUND THE LEAGUE

Kemp Checks Into Drug Rehab Program

April 07, 2001|Associated Press

There were moments when Shawn Kemp made significant contributions to the Portland Trail Blazers' quest for an NBA title, and others when the former all-star simply embarrassed himself on the court.

But few expected the 31-year-old forward's first season in Portland to end so ignominiously, leaving the team to check himself into a drug rehabilitation program. Kemp will be treated for cocaine abuse and won't return this season.

Since Kemp volunteered for the program he will continue on full salary, Trail Blazer General Manager Bob Whitsitt said before Friday night's game at Golden State.

Portland put Kemp on injured reserve Friday night and activated Antonio Harvey. Portland players were asked not to comment on the situation before the game.

"The entire Blazer organization supports Shawn during this difficult time," Whitsitt said in a press release. "He's taking steps to put his personal life in order so that he can return to his professional career and Shawn should be commended for his actions."

"It is what it is," Portland Coach Mike Dunleavy said. "We wish Shawn the best and the fullest recovery. We'll be waiting with open arms for him when he recovers."

The situation couldn't come at a worse time for the Trail Blazers, who had lost 10 of their previous 15 games to fall from the top playoff spot in the Western Conference to sixth. While Dunleavy has shifted to an eight-player rotation that often excludes Kemp, he still was counted on to back up center Arvydas Sabonis and power forward Rasheed Wallace.

Kemp, in his 12th season, was averaging 6.5 points and 3.8 rebounds, his worst numbers since his rookie season in 1989-90.

When he was traded from Cleveland to Portland last August--a deal that also sent Brian Grant from Portland to the Miami Heat--Kemp said he was fine with a supporting role. But eventually he complained about playing time, and the weight problems and foul trouble that marred his last two seasons with the Cavaliers further slowed his comeback.

Woefully out of shape, Kemp constantly reached in to commit fouls. And on offense, he wasn't close to the same player who ran the floor gracefully and threw down ferocious dunks as the Seattle SuperSonics' "Reign Man." At close to 300 pounds, Kemp was more likely to settle for a long jumper or bowl somebody over on his way toward the basket.

In late February, Dunleavy benched Kemp, playing him only 16 minutes in a span of five games.

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Toni Kukoc will miss Atlanta's game tonight at Houston because of a bone spur in his right heel. The Hawks said he is doubtful for Monday night's game in Detroit. Kukoc has averaged 19.7 points, 6.2 assists and 5.7 rebounds per game in 17 games with Atlanta since being acquired in a trade with Philadelphia. . . . The Orlando Magic activated Dee Brown from the injured list and the guard saw his first action of the season against Toronto on Friday. Brown missed the first 75 games of the season because of a torn left quadriceps tendon. . . . The Philadelphia 76ers signed forward Raja Bell to a 10-day contract and put guard Pepe Sanchez on the injured list because of tendinitis in his right knee.

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