BOWIE -- Perhaps the All-Star Game hopes of Washington Bullets guard Rex Chapman are alive, after all.
Chapman thinks so.
He said yesterday that the right ankle he dislocated on a layup attempt in Monday's game against the San Antonio Spurs is not as serious as originally thought. Instead of missing 10 weeks, Chapman said he might be able to return around the All-Star break, which begins Feb. 11.
"I'll be tough," said Chapman, maneuvering on crutches after the team's practice. "There's been some talk about maybe me playing in Minneapolis. It would be a thrill for me."
Minneapolis is the site of this year's All-Star Game, Feb. 13 at Target Center.
To make the team, Chapman would have to be selected by the Eastern Conference coaches, because the Bullets' leading scorer is not on the ballot. The All-Star reserves will be announced Feb. 1, and, until then, the Bullets will be doing their best to find a spot on the team for Chapman.
"I feel Rex will be back far in advance of what we thought, and I think the All-Star Game would be an excellent situation," Bullets general manager John Nash said. "We're going to do what we can to make people aware that he's rehabbing, [may be] ready for that game and for the season from that point on."
Chapman, who said he has a history of injuries to his right ankle, would love to be there -- but only at full strength.
"If they vote me in and I can play, great," said Chapman, who is averaging 18.0 points and 50.7 percent shooting from the field. "If they vote me in, and I can't, I'll still be there. I want to be 100 percent when I step back on the court. I don't want to come back and hobble around."