Williams keeps Bullet doctors, officials waiting

October 05, 1990|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Evening Sun Staff

Washington Bullets forward John Williams is AWOL.

Scheduled for a physical yesterday in Washington, Williams did not show up. He also did not report for an official team meeting at the practice facility at Mount St. Mary's last night.

And for the second time in less than a month, the Bullets do not know where he is.

"We're disappointed John failed to show up for his physical," Bullets general manager John Nash said in reserved understatement. "At this point, we don't have an explanation. We hope there is no emergency in his life and that we'll hear from him [today]."

The Bullets were to have press day today, followed by an afternoon practice.

Also missing from camp is shooting guard Ledell Eackles, who has said he would not report unsigned. Currently, Eackles and the Bullets are miles apart, with Eackles asking for $8 million and the Bullets offering $3 million.

But it is Williams, 23, who is considered essential to the Bullets' future success, and his basketball future appears tenuous at best.

Not only has the 6-foot-9, fifth-year player stopped following the rehabilitation program prescribed by his doctors after major knee surgery -- causing the Bullets to stop paying his salary July 6 -- but his weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds over the summer.

Nash said Williams' agent, Fred Slaughter, was under the impression Williams had left for Washington Wednesday.

Slaughter did not return calls left on his answering machine last night.

"His agent doesn't know where John is," Nash said of the Bullets swing man, who was missing for several weeks in September. "We've made calls to his D.C. residence and to his residence in Los Angeles. Now, all we can do is wait and see what John has to say when he shows up. It may be he has a valid explanation."

Despite gaining the weight during the summer, Williams reportedly had been working out for the last 10 days, rehabilitating his knee and was said to be in a good, healthy frame of mind.

"I don't know where he is, but I'm being assured he wants to play," said Nash. "I'd like to reserve comment until I speak to him."

Nash said he has been involved in a somewhat similar situation in Philadelphia with Charles Barkley. At least he hopes it is similar. In the Barkley case, a back injury made the All-Star realize he had to control his weight and keep his conditioning year round to protect his knees and his career.

"It is only recently that Charles has begun being more responsible about himself in the offseason," said Nash. "John is only 23. I think he is very gifted and possibly frustrated by this injury. From all I've heard he is a very likable guy, a good teammate, talented and we need him."

Nash said at this time it doesn't make any sense to give up on Williams.

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