Lakers' Johnson, West declare peace GM suggested star relaxed some nights

January 01, 1991|By Alan Goldstein

Los Angeles Lakers superstar Magic Johnson and general manager Jerry West apparently have made peace after West had ruffled Magic's feathers a week ago by suggesting that last year's MVP was not delivering his best effort every night this season.

After the Lakers ripped the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Forum Dec. 23, West met with Johnson and they settled their differences.

Perhaps West remembered that in the Lakers' pecking order, he is still second to Johnson, who, in 1981, led a player revolt in ousting coach Paul Westhead only 11 games into the season.

Johnson seems to have been more patient with his new coach, Mike Dunleavy, after the Lakers rebounded from a 2-5 start to stand 16-9.

"There's nothing for me to question," he said. "We knew when Dunleavy replaced Pat Riley, he was going to put in his own system. We also had to learn to play with two new guys -- Sam Perkins and Terry Teagle.

"Our problem was that everyone was thinking and not playing. Now it's gotten better. In the second half of the season, we'll have everything down and we'll be flowing again."

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Scrooge is back: Philadelphia 76ers star forward Charles Barkley has compassion for lesser men and thought it was very un-Christian for players to be waived right before Christmas.

"We should re-do the date for guaranteeing contracts," he said. "You can't cut guys on Christmas. That's the players' association's fault. We should make the date the beginning of the calendar. We cut Jim Farmer, our 12th man. Whoever the 12th man is, he's not going to get to play much. It's not like you're going to replace a Farmer with a Michael Jordan."

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Dudley no-dud: It was fashionable to make fun of New Jersey Nets reserve center Chris Dudley, who set the standard for free-throw ineptitude when he shot 31.9 percent from the line last year. But the Yale graduate, who was a fourth-round selection by Cleveland in 1987, is no longer a laughing matter.

Dudley recently made nine straight free throws, raising his average to 52 percent. But he has proved much more valuable to the Nets as a rebounder and shot-blocker. Against Houston Friday, he snared a career-high 21 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards. He is averaging seven rebounds a game, and 2.13 blocks, better than teammates Derrick Coleman and Sam Bowie.

"We're not the kind of team that is going to outscore people," said Dudley. "We have to play good defense to win or at least be in games."

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Plain English: Dallas Mavericks guard Alex English, in his 15th NBA season, says he can't understand the poor work ethic of some of his peers. Recently, he voiced dismay over the fact that pulled wisdom teeth kept Los Angeles Clippers center Benoit Benjamin out of action for two weeks.

"I played through a lot of injuries," English said. "Guys now sit out for having teeth pulled. I'd have had my teeth pulled, and played that same night."

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Doc had cure: Explaining why he deferred part of his 1990-1991 salary so that the Atlanta Hawks would have room in their salary cap to sign Sidney Moncrief, point guard Doc Rivers said, "Moncrief has been one of my heroes for years.

"I used to watch him play for the Bucks in Milwaukee while I was at Marquette. I thought I might get to play with him in Milwaukee, but getting to play with him now is beyond my wildest dreams."

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Flunked geography: Commenting on his trade of Danny Ainge to the Portland Trail Blazers for Byron Irvin (now with the Washington Bullets) and draft picks, Sacramento general manager Jerry Reynolds said: "I always said my goal is to build a championship team. Unfortunately, it's in Portland."

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Kemp-osure: Seattle SuperSonics wunderkind Shawn Kemp would now be a junior in college if he had not opted to jump right from junior college to the NBA last season. But the power forward, 21, who is averaging 15 points and 7.7 rebounds, feels he made the right decision.

"I know I'm the exception, not the rule," he said. "But I know I can compete in the pros. I never worked harder in my life this past summer to improve my game. I played in the L.A. Summer League, went to Pete Newell's camp for big men and lifted weights. It's really made a difference."

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Thinking small: Denver Nuggets sportscaster Dan Issel, watching a jump ball between Charlotte's Muggsy Bogues, 5 feet 3, and Denver's Michael Adams, 5-11: "This will be the first time in history a referee drops the ball rather than tosses it up."

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