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  •   Webber Re-Injures Shoulder

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Thursday, October 19, 1995; Page B01

    The Washington Bullets say it absolutely, positively can't happen again, that there's no way a second consecutive season will be ruined by injuries. This one may not be ruined, but it's certainly off to a bad start after forward Chris Webber joined recently acquired point guard Mark Price on the sideline yesterday.

    Meanwhile, center Kevin Duckworth's troubled two years with the Bullets ended last night when he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks for journeyman forward Bob McCann. The Bullets were so eager to rid themselves of Duckworth that they agreed to pay more than half of his $2.8 million salary, according to sources.

    Webber awoke yesterday morning to discover he had re-injured his left shoulder -- the one he dislocated 10 months ago -- during Tuesday's 112-87 loss in Chicago. The Bullets seem cautiously confident that the injury isn't serious, but they'll know more today when X-rays are taken.

    Webber was sore enough that he had trouble lifting his left arm above his head. He missed 19 games last season after dislocating the shoulder Dec. 22 against the Golden State Warriors. The Bullets believe this injury is a slight dislocation or severe bruise, but like Webber, they'll anxiously await today's X-rays.

    "I don't know how serious it is," Webber said. "I don't even want to begin to think about it. I think maybe I stretched it or irritated it in some way. They told me when I was hurt last year that it wouldn't be fully healed for a year and it hasn't been a year. It's definitely the same type of pain. I can barely raise my arm above my head without doing it slowly. Hopefully, I just loosened up some scar tissue."

    Webber said it was possible that the shoulder was injured during a fight with Chicago center Luc Longley late in the first half. Both players were ejected, but in the course of getting everyone separated, players from both teams tugged at Webber's arms, perhaps forcing the shoulder slightly out of place again.

    "I'm not really sure what happened," Webber said. "It could have happened in the fight because different people were pulling my arms. It was reminiscent of when I first injured it last year. Hopefully, it's not that bad. I really think it happened in the regular play of the game."

    Webber said he was a bit sore when he went to bed Tuesday, but was surprised at the severity of the pain when he awoke.

    The Bullets already were playing without Mark Price, who has had a recurrence of the plantar fascitis in his left foot that bothered him last season. He has been ordered to rest and take therapy for the entire preseason. But the Bullets were hopeful that Webber will be all right in a few days.

    "I don't think there's anything serious," Bullets General Manager John Nash said. "He has some discomfort in the shoulder blade area. I think it might be reckless for me to comment, but our trainer {Kevin Johnson} doesn't think it's serious."

    Webber's injury was revealed on a day that was interesting enough in other ways. After watching his team drop a second straight exhibition game by a lopsided margin, Bullets Coach Jim Lynam pushed his players through their longest and most grueling practice in the one-plus seasons he has been on the job.

    After losing to the Bulls, the Bullets had a 6:45 a.m. bus to Chicago's O'Hare Airport for a flight back to Washington. They were on the practice floor at 1:30 p.m., and during the next three hours, they held a series of tough scrimmages, ran plays, shot free throws and ran sprints.

    The competition was fierce enough that forwards Juwan Howard and Don MacLean squared off, and as the play got hotter and hotter, Webber yelled from the sideline at one point: "Total chaos."

    Asked if he were attempting to send a message, Lynam didn't hesitate.

    "Yeah, sure," he said. "I want them to understand that that's what this thing is about. You have to screw it down at times. A day like this is difficult, but it's an opportunity to increase mental toughness -- whatever that means. That's how you win close games in this league."

    Lynam was happy with the play of most of his starters, but center Gheorghe Muresan and almost every reserve -- including MacLean, Brent Price and Mitchell Butler -- had their troubles.

    Asked about the tough practice, Howard said that Lynam "really wants this team to do better than we did last year. I've got to admit it's a lot of wear and tear on your body. I'd have to say that sometimes, in my opinion, we need rest. That's what is going to help us have fresh legs."

    Webber was more blunt.

    "If he was trying to send a message, I think we responded well," he said. "This practice was reminiscent of every Michigan practice. Some people might say, How can teammates get upset with each other?' Juwan and I know it happens. We used to have to check each other every day, and I would hate seeing him coming. We'd get into it, but going home, we were friends again. We knew it would just make us better. If you don't challenge your teammates to be better, who's going to do it? That's the way it should be. I think the Bullets have had a tendency to think like losers. It's easy to be bullied, and if you're bullied in practice, you'll be bullied anytime."

    Duckworth was acquired from the Portland Trail Blazers for forward Harvey Grant in summer 1993. He got off to a bad start with then-coach Wes Unseld when he showed up out of shape, and he never really got back into the organization's good graces. He played well at the beginning of last season, but when his weight rose above 310 pounds, Nash twice suspended him.

    Duckworth reported to training camp some 13 pounds heavier than last season, at about 330. But he has played well from the beginning of camp. The Bullets have attempted to trade him since last season, and when Nash matched a $525,000 offer sheet to second-year center Jim McIlvaine, Duckworth knew he was gone.

    "Matching McIlvaine's offer sealed it," Duckworth said yesterday after learning the deal was imminent. "I'm sorry it didn't work out. I like all the guys here and don't like the idea of changing teams. I have a lot of respect for Jim Lynam. But I didn't see eye to eye with others. This is the best thing."

    Nash said: "Kevin is better suited to the situation in Milwaukee after we added Jim McIlvaine to the squad. It balances both rosters."

    McCann, 31, has bounced around the NBA, with short stints in Dallas, Detroit and Minnesota. He's a long- shot to make the Bullets.

    © Copyright 1995 The Washington Post Company

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