Legler is home on (three-point) range Bullet proves NBA worth, wins shooting contest

All-Star notebook

February 11, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Legler was always confident he would do well in the Long Distance Shootout but, just before going out on the court at the Alamodome, the Washington Bullets guard was stricken with a case of nerves.

"I was watching the rookie game and said 'Please just make one shot,' " Legler said. "Just don't go 0-for-25."

So all Legler did in his first round was score 23 points, tying the third-highest round in the history of the contest. He compiled a three-round score of 65 points -- the best in the event's 11 years -- to win the contest and a check for $20,000.

"It's overwhelming, my whole body is numb," said Legler, with his trophy by his side. "Just getting to the competition, and the season I've been having, it's been unbelievable. To win this, it magnifies it tenfold."

After scoring 22 points in the second round, Legler faced a final against Orlando Magic guard Dennis Scott. Winning the coin flip, Legler elected to shoot first and, after his slowest start of the evening, finished with 20 points.

"After that I said if Dennis Scott can come in and beat 20, I'd go over and give the check to him myself," Legler said.

L Scott was never close, scoring 14 points in the final round.

"I told a couple of my buddies before the game 'You have to watch out for Tim Legler,' " Scott said. "I was worried about Glen Rice, because he won it before. But I thought that Legler was a darkhorse."

Legler, the NBA's most accurate three-point shooter this season at 51.3 percent, also becomes the first player to win the competition in both the NBA and the CBA. He won two years ago while playing for Omaha of the CBA.

"I was trying to put myself to that place and that night," Legler said. "And I felt like I was the best shooter out there."

How much did he win in that contest? "Nothing. I won two round-trip tickets to anywhere. Me and my wife went to Disney World."

Legler credits his wife, Jennifer, with calming his pre-competition jitters. On Feb. 1, Jennifer gave birth to a daughter, Lauren Nicole, a delivery that was induced so Legler could make it to the three-point competition.

"When I was talking to her she said 'You're the best shooter there, you know that. Whatever happens, you're having a great year and you're coming home to me and Lauren.' "

Legler, who is making the NBA veteran minimum salary of $250,000 this season, has played with six teams in six years, but mostly on 10-day contracts.

"It's hard playing with a 10-day contract," he said. "It's like playing with a refrigerator on your back."

That load officially came off last night.

"I had this belief in myself that I was the best shooter out there," said Legler, who missed only two of 15 two-point "money" balls. "And I proved it."

(M)any V(aluable) (P)layers

When Bullets forward Rasheed Wallace got to the locker room after yesterday's rookie game, he looked to settle a little business with Toronto Raptors rookie Damon Stoudamire.

"I said 'Damon, can I have my [MVP] trophy?' " Wallace said. "I was just messing with him."

Wallace asked the question because it was his short baseline jumper -- after a rebound of Stoudamire's miss -- with 6.2 seconds left that proved to be the winning points in a 94-92 East victory.

Golden State forward Joe Smith came down on the other end and hit a three-pointer, but the officials ruled it came after the buzzer. Smith slid to the floor, holding his head in disbelief.

"Personally, I thought it was good," Stoudamire said. "I think when that game got into the last five minutes, everyone wanted to win."

Had Smith's shot counted, the ex-Maryland star probably would have won the game's MVP award after a 20-point, six-rebound performance that included three three-pointers. Instead the award went to Stoudamire, who scored 19 points and had 11 assists.

Said Wallace: "It's been a lot of fun. . . . I feel good about the last shot, because my team won."

Cassell victorious

Sam Cassell (Dunbar) made eight shots in 59.4 seconds to win the Fleer ShootAround. He won $15,000, of which he will give $5,000 to the Madison Square Recreation Center in East Baltimore.

Cassell beat Sacramento's Mitch Richmond, Indiana's Reggie Miller and San Antonio's Chuck Person.

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