LANDOVER -- Charles Barkley's opinion notwithstanding, Washington Bullets forward Bernard King was named yesterday to start in the National Basketball Association All-Star Game.
"Words cannot express the joy I feel being named a starter," King said. "If I had to write a script, I couldn't have written it any better."
King was selected by Boston Celtics coach Chris Ford to replace Larry Bird in the starting lineup for the Eastern Conference All-Stars. The game will be played Sunday in Charlotte, N.C.
Bird returned this week from a 14-game layoff due to a lower-back problem, but Celtics doctors advised him against playing in consecutive games or traveling consecutive nights.
King, 34, enjoying his finest season since suffering a career-threatening knee injury with the New York Knicks in March 1985, experienced a scare last week, when he hyper
ventilated and left the Boston Garden court on a stretcher. His ailment was diagnosed as an allergic reaction to a bee-pollen vitamin supplement.
King played against the 76ers in Philadelphia on Wednesday night, but managed only 12 points on 6-for-19 from the field. After the game, Barkley suggested that King, averaging 29.6 points, could not be mentioned in the same company as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Karl Malone and Barkley himself.
"I don't even worry about such remarks. It doesn't affect me positively or negatively," King said last night after scoring 47 against the New Jersey Nets.
Ford also named Detroit Pistons guard Joe Dumars to replace injured teammate Isiah Thomas in the starting backcourt.
Philadelphia 76ers guard Hersey Hawkins was named to the squad, replacing Bird and drawing the wrath of Pistons general manager Jack McCloskey.
"The league has elected a guard for injured forward Larry Bird on this year's All-Star team, therefore bypassing possibly the greatest defensive player to ever play the game -- Dennis Rodman," McCloskey said.
Hawkins, averaging 21.6 points, received the highest number of votes among players not selected as reserves by the East coaches.
EASTERN CONFERENCE Charles Barkley, F 76ers
Bernard King, F Bullets
Patrick Ewing, C Knicks
Michael Jordan, G Bulls
Joe Dumars, G Pistons
WESTERN CONFERENCE Karl Malone, F Jazz
Chris Mullin, F Warriors
David Robinson, C Spurs
Magic Johnson, G Lakers
Kevin Johnson, G Suns