Howard's attitude wins over Bullets

July 06, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Sometimes it's an icy glare at an opponent. Other times it will be the occasional scream on the court. One thing's for sure when you have Juwan Howard on your team -- you have a player with an attitude.

"The intensity, I'm just really in the game," Howard said yesterday. "I want to win. I can bring confidence to a team and I can bring enthusiasm. I can't leave that at home."

And for that, the Washington Bullets can be thankful, as they introduced Howard, the fifth pick in last week's NBA draft; and Jim McIlvaine, the team's second-round pick, at a news conference yesterday.

In recent seasons, the Bullets have been perhaps the quietest team of any in the league. The addition of Howard can change that.

"I'm not sure what they were like because in the Midwest we PTC didn't get a lot of coverage of the Washington Bullets," Howard said. "I hope the guys have the same personality that I do. When I play I like to get my teammates into it, as well as the crowd. I hope it's a style that rubs off."

Howard, 6 feet 9, 250 pounds, is projected to play mostly power forward and some center for the Bullets. At Michigan, he was most effective playing with his back to the basket, but at times demonstrated an ability to pass effectively and hit the medium-range jumper.

Howard, who said he began to think seriously about leaving college a year early toward the end of this past season, said he understands that his initial experience with the rebuilding Bullets won't match his "Fab Five" experience at Michigan, where he helped lead the Wolverines to two national championship games. But that won't stop his effort.

"I'll tell you one thing, I won't be a failure," said Howard, who will wear No. 5 (his college number, 25, was worn by Gus Johnson and has been retired by the Bullets). "I'll be out there giving 110 percent -- not 100 percent -- 110 percent."

The Bullets' brass has come away impressed from their encounters with Howard.

"I've got every reason to believe that Juwan will have a very long and successful career here," general manager John Nash said. "We feel he can make a solid contribution soon."

Whether that contribution comes on Friday when the team starts its rookie/free-agent camp remains to be seen. Howard's agent, David Falk, said it's unusual to have a top-five pick in camp unsigned.

"In 20 years I've only had three or four players go in without a contract," Falk said. "It's [Howard's] decision. We work for the players and make the recommendations."

McIlvaine, a 7-foot-1, 240-pound center from Marquette, would attend the camp if not for his wedding on Saturday. He said he plans to play in the team's summer league, which starts July 16. McIlvaine, the 32nd pick overall who led the nation in blocked shots, showed a little humor in introducing himself yesterday.

"My name is Jim McIlvaine," he said, "for those of you who weren't around when I was picked."

McIlvaine said that Europe, where second-round pick Conrad McRae wound up last season, is "definitely not in my plans.

"People have told me [Washington] is an excellent situation for me," he said.

That opportunity can be determined by the off-season progress of Kevin Duckworth, a big disappointment in his first season with the Bullets. Duckworth, who is at home in Portland, Ore., is scheduled to attend the Kempner Clinic/Rice Diet Center at the Duke University Medical Center this summer. Former Bullets forward John Williams dropped 55 pounds during four months at the clinic last season.

NOTES: The rookie/free-agent camp runs from Friday to Tuesday. . . . Derek Smith, a nine-year NBA veteran, was named assistant coach. New Bullets coach Jim Lynam coached Smith when he played for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 1980s. . . . Former Indiana Pacers assistant trainer Kevin Johnson was hired as the Bullets' trainer.

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