It's Lewis' turn to uphold Celtics' All-Star tradition

January 29, 1992|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Correspondent

LANDOVER -- Mention the Boston Celtics, and you immediately think of their legendary front line of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, who have combined for 26 NBA All-Star Game appearances.

But when the All-Stars assemble in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 9, Celtics swingman Reggie Lewis could be Boston's only representative. Bird, on the injured list with a recurring back problem, is listed as questionable.

Lewis, the fifth-year pro from Baltimore's Dunbar High and Northeastern University, was one of seven players Eastern Conference coaches added to the All-Star team yesterday. Joining Lewis as supplemental picks were guard Mark Price and center Brad Daugherty of Cleveland, forward Scottie Pippen of Chicago, guard Joe Dumars and forward Dennis Rodman of Detroit.

Dominique Wilkins of Atlanta completed the list, but the Hawks' star forward ruptured his right Achilles' tendon last night against Philadelphia and will be lost for the rest of the season.

That leaves the possibility that Washington center Pervis Ellison,who along with Bullets guard Michael Adams received strong fan support, may be named to take Wilkins' spot.

Neither Adams nor Ellison, for the meantime, expressed great disappointment about being bypassed by the coaches.

"I'm not going to lose any sleep over it," Adams said.

Ellison, whose scoring (20.7), rebounding (12.3) and shot blocking (2.83) matches or surpasses his top rival centers in the East, was more philosophical.

"Wait until I've done it over a longer period of time than half a season," he said. "Then I'll feel more like I earned it."

If Bird does not play, it is believed Eastern Conference coach Phil Jackson of Chicago will choose Bulls forward Horace Grant to replace him.

With the Celtics' big three frequently sidelined with injuries this season, more of the team's leadership burden has fallen to Lewis.

Dividing his time between shooting guard and small forward, Lewis is tied with Bird for the team scoring lead (20.9). Since Bird was placed on the injured list Jan. 6, Lewis has averaged 25.9 points while shooting 51 percent (115 of 226) from the field.

"I want the responsibility now," said Lewis, who will be making his first All-Star appearance. "I've put in the time, and now I'm relaxed at what I'm doing."

Known for his quiet demeanor, Lewis, who signed a five-year contract worth $14.5 million in August 1990, has become more demonstrative on the court.

"I'm being more vocal than I have in the past because I know our 'Big 3' won't be around forever," he said.

Celtics president Red Auerbach, who urged the team to make Lewis its No. 1 draft pick in 1987, sees the Baltimorean emerging into a superstar in his own right. "He's coming into his own," said Celtics coach Chris Ford. "Because of all our injuries, he's had to step up and assume a lot of the pressure, and he's done a great job."

Among the Western Conference reserves was Dikembe Mutombo, the Denver Nuggets' highly celebrated 7-foot-2 rookie from Georgetown, who became the first rookie chosen to play in the All-Star Game since the San Antonio Spurs' David Robinson in the 1989-90 season.

Also selected as reserves for the West were Otis Thorpe and Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston, Jeff Hornacek and Dan Majerle of Phoenix, James Worthy of the Los Angeles Lakers and John Stockton of Utah.

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