Hornets unlikely to miss departed Reid On or off the court, he was no favorite

December 11, 1992|By Ron Green | Ron Green,Knight-Ridder News Service

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- J. R. Reid is gone, traded by th Charlotte Hornets to San Antonio for aging Sidney Green and some draft choices.

That news may send a great celebration swirling through the streets. This is a trade Hornets fans have been trying feverishly to make through letters to the editor, talk shows and heated conversation almost from the moment the big man was drafted out of North Carolina in 1989.

It is also a trade that should have set off a celebration in the Hornets front office when it was finally consummated Wednesday. Champagne, balloons, music, the works.

The Hornets had too many big men for the minutes they had to distribute. They unloaded a four-year contract for the two years remaining on Green's pact, saving themselves about $4 million. They got a first-round draft choice that is like gold in the trading market.

Plus Reid didn't enjoy the unanimous respect of his teammates. One went to management in the offseason and recommended that Reid be dealt because he contributed to the immaturity in the locker room.

"I think we made the right deal, I really do," said owner George Shinn.

There is absolutely no doubt about it.

Reid had some fans, of course. Shinn got hate mail when there was talk earlier of dealing the hulking forward. But far more people regularly coupled J.R.'s name with an epithet. Of all the players who have worn Charlotte teal, he was the most the most cussed and discussed.

Because what might have been never was. Expectations always exceeded the performance of the team's top draft choice in 1989. Even that could have been forgiven, though, had the customers been convinced that Reid was laying it all on the floor. But they weren't.

The fans loved this team passionately, hugged it to their breasts and nurtured it patiently, but they never loved J.R.

Shinn said Wednesday night delicately what others have thought:

"Obviously, J.R. has talent. Unfortunately, it came in spurts. It didn't come consistently. Maybe that's because he didn't get enough minutes.

"I always felt he had great talent. Before we ever got a team, Julius Erving told me if he had a franchise, his first pick would be J.R. Reid. That was when J.R. was a freshman (at North Carolina). He slipped back a little bit.

"There's been a lot of question about J.R.'s maturity. When Larry Johnson came here, he helped J.R. mature. I thought marriage also helped mature him. I thought those changes were going to help him perform better on the court, but maybe with all the changes, with Alonzo (Mourning) and all that, it just didn't work.

"I just hope the guy comes back and rubs my nose in it. That's how much I think of him."

Reid may do that. He's likely to get more playing time in San Antonio. But there's really no guessing with him. He had some splendid games. In one four-game stretch last season, he averaged 15 points and seven rebounds. But he had far too many games when his body showed up but his game didn't, and that's why the fans never felt about him the way they felt about the others.

In a telephone interview Wednesday with San Antonio writers, Reid said, "It wasn't a secret that the team (his rookie season) wasn't very good at all. I think everyone knew that. Then right away I was put at center and playing center was tough enough for a young guy. And then we had coaching changes and didn't have much stability."

That, however, is ancient history.

Hornets President Spencer Stolpen said emotion played no part in dealing Reid.

"We look at what the impact will be on our organization across the board," he said. "It was not an emotional situation."

It was for the fans.

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