No. 1 pick Johnson signs with Hornets

October 31, 1991

For Charlotte Hornets fans, the long wait for No. 1 draft pick Larry Johnson is over.

The Hornets, in need of inside scoring and rebounding, announced the signing of the 6-foot-5 power forward from Nevada-Las Vegas yesterday.

The six-year contract is worth $3.3 million a year through the 1996-97 season, team officials announced. The first year will be worth $1.95 million, the offer that the Hornets made at least a month ago.

"I'm ready to play," Johnson said. "I was ready three or four months ago. Nothing has been as terrible as waiting to get into camp."

Johnson missed the preseason while his agent Steve Endicott and Hornets officials tried to work out a deal.

The negotiations started on friendly terms when the Hornets made Johnson the top pick in June's college draft, but they soon became acrimonious. Earlier this month, both sides accused each other of being ignorant of the league's salary cap rules.

* 76ERS: Charles Barkley accused the team of practicing racism, predicting the team would keep backup center Dave Hoppen on the roster as the Sixers' lone white player.

Barkley indicated that he thought owner Harold Katz would base his decision on the fans' feelings, not personal prejudice.

"I don't think Harold is racist, but I said it would surprise me if we had an all-black team. And I stick by that statement," Barkley said, responding to statements he made Tuesday night on a radio talk show.

Katz was in California at the NBA board of governors meeting and "probably is going to refrain from commenting," said 76ers spokesman Zack Hill.

Coach Jim Lynam said he wanted a team that can win games, regardless of the color of the players.

Hoppen said Barkley was just being Barkley.

* SUPERSONICS: Center Benoit Benjamin posted bond and was freed yesterday after being arrested on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license, the Washington State Patrol said.

State Patrol Lt. Dick Smith said a trooper stopped Benjamin, 26, for a traffic infraction at about 12:30 p.m. and found the outstanding warrant issued in June.

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