Stewart focuses on healthy return

October 10, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- There are two faint scars on either side of the back of Larry Stewart's neck, one where a bullet entered and the other where it exited. As he turns down the collar of his warm-up jacket to display the wounds, reminders from a January burglary of his house gone violent, one has to strain even to notice.

Out of sight, out of mind. Or at least that's how Stewart would want it to be.

"I try not to harp on it, because all that brings up is bad things, and why do that?" said Stewart of the ordeal in which he was bound and shot by burglars who broke into his Baltimore County home. "Of course, it flashes across my mind. But you have to go on. You just can't keep on thinking about it."

Going on for Stewart is getting his game back together on the basketball court, and the 26-year-old forward is attempting to regain his old form with the start of the Washington Bullets' training camp.

The 1993-94 season proved to be a lost season for Stewart. He broke a bone in his right foot that required surgery. After missing all of training camp and starting the season on the injured list, he finally was activated Dec. 4, only to rebreak the foot about two weeks later.

A month later came the shooting. He would play just three games during the season. Now, the former Coppin State star is back trying to earn minutes with a new coaching staff on a team that's suddenly heavy in forwards.

"I think I have to prove myself, being I missed the whole year," Stewart said. "The coach doesn't remember two years ago; they remember last year. But I think the coach has a good feel for me."

New coach Jim Lynam already has a sense of the abilities of Stewart, who made the team three years ago as an undrafted free agent. He became the first undrafted rookie to make an NBA all-rookie team, averaging 10.9 points and 5.9 rebounds.

"He does all those good things that winning players are about," said Lynam, who has observed Stewart during workouts over the summer. "He has a nose for the ball, both ends. Balls seem to fall into his lap."

Which is why Stewart was expected to figure prominently in the Bullets' plans before the injuries sidetracked him last season.

"This is my first time my whole career missing that many games," Stewart said. "It was very frustrating, but injuries are part of the game."

Injuries helped earn Mitchell Butler and Kenny Walker spots on the team last season, and helped boost the minutes of Don MacLean -- the league's Most Improved Player last season. If and when Juwan Howard signs, the Bullets will have an abundance of forwards.

That seemingly would place Stewart on the bubble, but he seems confident there will be a spot on the team for him.

"The type of offense [Lynam] runs is up and down, so we'll need guys coming in to give guys breaks," Stewart said. "I wanted to just come in, have a good camp and show the staff I am 100 percent healthy."

The hardest part for Stewart was having confidence playing on the injured right foot. During his first operation, doctors inserted a pin in the foot. That pin was taken out during the second surgery, and replaced by a piece of bone.

"I wasn't sure my foot was ready early in the summer, so I took it easy," Stewart said. "After I saw the doctor a couple of more times, I knew it was fine. It's feeling good now."

NOTES: MacLean (sore thigh muscle) and Walker (sore knee) sat out both sessions yesterday. Butler scrimmaged for the first time, after missing two straight days with an injured knee. . . . Center Tito Horford left training camp. He has an offer to play in Brazil, and will be waived by the Bullets today.

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