In an Instant, Rice Makes Offense for East
By J.A. Adande
CLEVELAND, Feb. 9 Seeing scores of more than 100 points are rare this season, especially in this building.
Tonight the 20,592 spectators at Gund Arena, home of the low-scoring Cleveland Cavaliers, saw the NBA's best--or what was left of them--combine for 252 points in the Eastern Conference's 132-120 victory over the Western Conference in the All-Star Game.
The East trailed by 23 points midway through the second quarter, but went on a 27-7 run before yielding a late layup to Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon to get within 60-57 at the half.
Charlotte Hornets guard Glen Rice took over in the third quarter. He made four straight three-pointers to spark the East's 18-3 run. He scored 20 points in the period, setting the all-star record for points in a quarter. Hal Greer of the Philadelphia 76ers set the previous mark with 19 in 1968.
Rice's 24 points in the second half also gave him a record. The old record of 23 was shared by Wilt Chamberlain (1962) and Tom Chambers (1987). Rice's 26 points overall earned him the most valuable player award and helped soothe the sting of not making it to the final round of the three-point shootout Saturday night.
"I definitely felt I could go out and win the three-point contest," Rice said. "Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Better things came down the road."
Michael Jordan has won the all-star game MVP award twice, including last season. Today he produced the first triple-double in all-star game history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, but it wasn't enough to earn him another trophy. He shot 5 for 14.
He said he was awestruck by taking part in a halftime ceremony that brought together 47 of the 50 men selected as the greatest players in NBA history.
"I was very nervous," Jordan said. "I haven't been nervous in these situations in a long time. I sat back and looked at all the great players who paved the road for myself and other players who played today. It's a great feeling to go out there and pay gratitude to them, and at the same time to see yourself among those players was truly an accomplishment."
If the most celebrated athlete of our time was nervous, imagine how Washington Bullets forward Chris Webber felt in his first all-star game.
"Very nervous," Webber said. "I've never been that nervous in my life before. I get nervous before every game, but that's kind of consistent. I've never been this nervous before."
Webber shot 1 for 4 and had two points. He also missed a couple of trips down court because he had trouble with his shoelaces.
"My shoe wouldn't tie up," he said. "They teased me on the bench, telling me, quit trying to get some shoe time."
Actually, Webber is playing this season without a shoe contract. But he felt like a richer man this weekend after a private meeting with former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell.
"That was probably the highlight of my weekend," Webber said. "It was in a quiet room, and I could talk to him. It was amazing. I was just looking at him, his beard, the grayness, everything. I was really trying to take in the moment. This is a guy who . . . was my father's Michael Jordan. It was a pleasure to meet him and something I'll never forget. It was probably the highlight of my career."
Without question, there were more great players wearing suits than uniforms tonight. In addition to the all-time greats who watched from the stands, several injured all-stars watched from the bench. Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal did not play because of injuries, opening the door for players such as Chris Gatling and Kevin Garnett to play in their first all-star game. Forty-seven of the 50 players were present for the halftime ceremony. Absent were O'Neal, who has a knee injury, and former Lakers star Jerry West. An NBA spokesman said West had a sinus condition and was advised not to take an airplane flight. Pete Maravich, who died of a heart attack in 1988 at age 40, was represented by sons Joshua and Jaeson.
The players donned special leather jackets reminiscent of high-school letter jackets. Three players wore Bullets jackets: Wes Unseld, Earl Monroe and Elvin Hayes. The presence of the legendary players, including Wilt Chamberlain, George Mikan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, dominated the weekend, and after they walked off the court it was doubtful they would ever gather together again.
"It was very thrilling and very exciting to be here," said Paul Arizin, who starred for Philadelphia in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Sitting in the gleaming new Gund Arena with its luxury boxes, having watched a game that was beamed around the world, Arizin said he didn't feel as if he had missed out by playing when he did and setting the table for today's stars.
"You play in your era, you live in your era," Arizin said. "This is so big, it's gotten extremely difficult for today's player to have any degree of anonymity. In our day, we didn't have the television. The only people who knew you were the ones who went to the games.
"In a way, I feel sorry for Michael Jordan. Even though he makes the money, he doesn't have any privacy."
© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company