Webber gets All-Star nod to replace ailing Ewing Bullets forward puts original snub aside, decides to participate

February 06, 1997|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

DENVER -- When the All-Star reserves were announced last week, Chris Webber was clearly upset that he was not among the seven players named. So his reaction was somewhat surprising yesterday when the league called, wondering if Webber would like to play in Sunday's game in place of the ailing Patrick Ewing.

"I had to think about it for a second," Webber said. "I had to humble myself. Not to be rebellious, I said yes."

It's the second consecutive season that the Bullets have had an Webber All-Star, with Juwan Howard getting voted to the team last season. The last time the Bullets had all-stars in consecutive years was when Bernard King made the team in 1991, followed by Michael Adams in 1992.

Webber has participated in All-Star festivities before, playing in the rookie game in his first year on the way to being named the league's Rookie of the Year in 1994. The 6-foot-10 forward is leading the team in scoring (19.8), rebounding (9.8 -- 16th in the league), and blocks (2.0 -- 12th in the league).

With Webber getting named to the squad, there are now four players who have been added as replacements for this year's All-Star game.

Also named yesterday in the Western Conference were Kevin Garnett of Minnesota and Chris Gatling of Dallas, replacing injured starters Shaquille O'Neal of the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston's Clyde Drexler. On Tuesday, Seattle's Detlef Schrempf was named as a replacement for injured starter Charles Barkley of Houston.

Garnett, at 20 years, 8 months, 21 days as of Sunday, will be the second-youngest All-Star ever, older only than Magic Johnson in 1980.

Webber said it still bothers him that he wasn't named by the coaches as a reserve, getting by-passed by the likes of Christian Laettner, whose stats didn't match up to those of the Bullets forward. At the time the team was announced last week, Webber was the only one of six players in the league averaging double-doubles in points and rebounds who was not named to the team.

"I guess I have to look at it like it's a blessing, just to be considered," Webber said. "Hopefully, next time I'll get it the old fashioned way."

Howard said that, before the reserves were named last week, he was planning to attend the game in Cleveland to cheer his teammate on. But when the reserves were named last week, Howard made other plans for a mini vacation for the break.

"I already made plans to go elsewhere and I can't cancel my plans and allow them to take my money," Howard said. "I'm happy for him, he truly deserves it. It was sad the coaches didn't select him in the first place. I'll just have to watch it on TV."

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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