Surging Smith hot on Stoudamire's trail for top rookie

On the NBA

February 09, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

Golden State's Joe Smith will be in San Antonio for All-Star Weekend, participating in tomorrow's rookie game. But the way the 6-foot-9 former Maryland star has played the past week, there clearly will be a spot for him in the future for the marquee game.

In his past four games, Smith has averaged 22.5 points and 13.7 rebounds for the Warriors.

The game-by-game lines: 28 points, nine rebounds, four blocks vs. Toronto last Friday; 16 points, 10 rebounds vs. New Jersey on Sunday; 23 points, 16 rebounds (14 offensive) vs. the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday; and 23 points and 20 rebounds in a head-to-head matchup with Dennis Rodman (18 rebounds) and Chicago on Wednesday.

Teammate Rony Seikaly called the wiry Smith "a machine, another Dennis Rodman." Clippers coach Bill Fitch said after Monday's game: "If they were casting a vote tomorrow [for Rookie of the Year] and I was voting, I'd vote for Smith."

Smith will spend the rest of the season playing catch-up to Raptors point guard Damon Stoudamire, who got off to a strong start in Toronto and is averaging 18.4 points and 9.1 assists. Stoudamire has been given control of the expansion team from day one, a fact that Smith said makes comparisons a bit unfair.

"I don't think we can really compare," Smith said. "The ball is in his hands 90 percent of the time."

Stoudamire was the Rookie of the Month in November and, while increasing his numbers in December, was disappointed when Smith got the award that month.

"I guess they can't give it to the same person every month," Stoudamire said.

That comment was brought to the attention of Smith, who asked "who won the award for January?"

When the reply came back Stoudamire, Smith said, "I guess they can't give it to the same person two months in a row."

All-Star bark from 'Dog'

Since Glenn Robinson can't quite figure out why he's not on a flight to San Antonio today to play in Sunday's All-Star Game, shall we spell it out for him?

For starters, Robinson is only the second-best player (behind Vin Baker) on a Milwaukee Bucks team that is nine games below .500 (18-27) going into the break. Baker or Robinson? Robinson or Baker? The choice is real easy.

Also, being an All-Star for the most part means having a complete game. Sure, Robinson can score. But he should change his nickname to "Big Og" because the guy couldn't recognize "D" to save his life.

On Tuesday, Dallas Mavericks forward George McCloud scored 36 points against the Bucks, hitting eight of 12 three-pointers. "Big Og" supposedly was guarding McCloud at the time, but a review of game tapes will be needed to verify that.

Enough said. Let's hear from Robinson, himself.

"I've got one thing to say: How can you be selected to be an Olympian, one of the 12 best players in the world -- I'm talking the whole world -- and not make the NBA All-Star team?" he said. "What's the definition of that? That's all I got to say."

Robinson probably doesn't recognize the fact that, with the exception of the original Olympic team, the so-called Dream Teams haven't been composed of the NBA's 12 best players. If that's the criteria, maybe we should yank Robinson's spot.

"I think it's a popularity contest," Robinson continued. "But if that's the case, I should have made it last year."

And why?

"Being the No. 1 pick and being the Big Dog. Ability-wise and stat-wise, I'm right there."

He'll be right there this weekend, right where he belongs. Watching the All-Star Game like the rest of us as a spectator.

Magic and medals

Speaking of the Olympic team, since Magic Johnson already has experienced the thrill of winning an Olympic gold medal, it would be nice if he would allow someone else the honor and quit campaigning for one of the final two spots.

Sure, USA Basketball was unhappy with the antics of some of the players on Dream Team II during the World Championships in Toronto in 1994 -- antics that forced the team to ask some of the original Dream Teamers back for Atlanta in 1996. But there are enough good players of character in the league (Smith, the Washington Bullets' Juwan Howard to name a few) who would represent the United States with dignity.

Although Johnson won't be in San Antonio as a player this weekend, he has showed that he is capable of posting All-Star numbers in his two weeks since returning.

Johnson, coming off the bench in the five games in his return, is averaging 17.8 points, 7.8 assists and 7.2 rebounds in 30.8 minutes. He has flirted with triple doubles nightly and the Los Angeles Lakers have won four of five since his return (and 11 of 13 going into the break). Johnson may add the league's sixth-man award to his long list of NBA honors.

"Sixth man is OK with me," Johnson said. "I hope [coach Del Harris] plays me in the sixth-man role because what I bring off the bench is good for our team."

Around the league

Former Bullets guard Jeff Malone has been staying in a Miami hotel the past week and could resurface with the Heat after the All-Star break. Malone was released as a cost-cutting measure by the Philadelphia 76ers earlier this season. . . . Word out of Chicago is that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen will skip today's All-Star media session in San Antonio. The two did it in 1993 in Salt Lake City and were fined $10,000 by the league. . . . Former Maverick Roy Tarpley reportedly has signed a three-year deal to play with Iraklias, a professional team in Greece. . . . Kevin Johnson is -- what else? -- hurt again. The Suns point guard injured his hamstring in Phoenix's win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

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