The National Basketball Association will stage its 1980 All-Star Game today at the Capital Centre, and a sellout crowd should see a wide-open shoot-it-up-slam-it down affair.
The nationally televised 1 p.m. game (WDVM-TV-9) has been sold out for a week. With the three-point field goal in effect and colorful rookies Larry Bird and Earvin (Magic) Johnson joining the usual stable of NBA greats, today's game promises to be one of the most entertaining in the 30-year history of the event.
"Now this is going to be fun," said Johnson, the first rookie to start in the game since Elvin Hayes 12 years ago. "I know some players are going to do some wild things out there and I'm gald I'll get to see them. I might even be doing some of them myself."
In NBA developments yesterday, the league's board of governors voted to expand to Dallas next season, although under different terms than originally recommended.
The owners and the players union also have reached agreement on a new three-year collective-bargaining agreement, still subject to the players approval (details on Page D5).
The all-star teams are well-balanced. If there is an edge, it would have to be with the West because of its All-Star Game experience.
The 11-man West team boasts seven players who were in the game last year, while the East has only four returnees.
The West starters will be Marques Johnson of Milwaukee and Adrian Dantley of Utah at forward, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of Los Angeles at center and Lloyd Free of San Diego and Johnson of Los Angeles at guard.
The West reserves are Paul Westphal and Walter Davis of Phoenix, Jack Sikma and Dennis Johnson of Seattle, Otis Birdsong of Kansas City and Kermit Washington of Portland.
Only Washington, Johnson, Free and Dantley were not in the game last year.
The West will be coached by Seattle's Lenny Wilkens, whose team earned a 134-129 victory in the game at the Silverdome a year ago.
The East starters will be Julius Erving of Philadelphia and John Drew of Atlanta at forward, Moses Malone of Houston at center and George Gervin of San Antonio, the league's leading scorer, and Eddie Johnson of Atlanta at guard.
The East reserves are Hayes of Washington, Dan Roundfield of Atlanta, Michael Ray Richardson and Bill Cartwright of New York and Bird and Nate Archibald of Boston.
Only Hayes, Erving, Malone and Gervin played in last year's game.
More than 2,100,000 votes were cast as NBA fans picked the starters. Gervin was the leading vote-getter. The six nonstarters on each team were selected by the respective conference coaches.
Cartwright, who was voted to the team after Boston's Dave Cowens pulled out because of a foot injury, was in bed with the flu all day yesterday and is questionable for today's game.
The East team's coach, Billy Cunningham of Philadelphia, said that if Cartwright cannot play, Hayes would be used as Malone's backup at center.
Hayes, who will be making his 12th straight All-Star Game appearance, said that was fine with him.
"I end up playing center every year, anyway," he said. "It's still one of the greatest thrills to me just to be a part of the All-Star Game. When I was a rookie, I never realized I'd be in one, let alone 12.
"This is the only game all year where it doesn't matter who wins and you can just go out and have fun," Hayes added. "Everyone is loose and you just go out and play."
Cunningham said he plans to give everyone equal playing time in the first half, then use his most productive players down the stretch.
Wilkens also said he will try to play everyone equally, "and try to win the game, too."
The league's top six scorers -- Gervin, Free, Dantley, Malone, Erving and Abdul-Jabbar -- all are in the game, guaranteeing a high-scoring affair.
"It's also going to be a wide-open game because we're going to give the players the freedome to be creative," Wilkens said.
There are just as many flashy passers as there are dead-eye shooters.
Richardson is the league leader in assists and Archibald is right behind him. Rookies Bird and Johnson say that passing is the strongest part of their games.
Given the freedom both coaches say they have granted to their players, the all-stars will be flipping enough behind-the-back bounce passes and casting off from three-point range often enough to please everyone.
The Bullets' John Lally and Seattle's Frank Furtado are the trainers . . . Only Cartwright and Marques Johnson, who had flight difficulties, didn't practice yesterday . . . Ervinghas averaged 25 points a game in the last three All-Star Games . . . The East has won 18 and lost 11 in the series . . . officials will be Joe Goshue and Ed Rush with Wally Rooney the alternate.