While the downtrodden Dallas Mavericks were flying here for tonight's game at Capital Centre against the surging Bullets, their only star attraction was on his way to Ann Arbor, Mich., for further examination of his injured right foot.
Mark Aquirre, the team's top scorer and the first player chosen in last spring's draft, broke a bone on the outside of his foot Wednesday and is not expected to play for at least a month.
The 6-foot-7 forward, who gave up his last season at De Paul after two frustrating years of trying to win the NCAA title, has been an instant success as a pro. Under Coach Dick Motta's system, which is geared to free forwards for high percentage shots, Aquirre was the league's seventh-leading scorer (23.8 points per game) when he was injured.
In games during Aguirre's absence, Jay Vincent, a 6-7 second-round pick from Michigan State, has scored 24 and 29 points. Motta's most recent disappointment has been the scoring slump of his other forward, Tom LaGarde, who still is bothered by tendinitis in his right knee.
One of the bright spots has been the play of former Maryland star Brad Davis, who is the team's second leading scorer (12.8) and assist leader. After tonight's game (WTOP-1500 at 8:05), the Bullets go to Cleveland for a Wednesday meeting with the Cavaliers, winners of four of their last five. That will end a seven-game stretch in which the Bullets have been home for only two contests.
Robert Reid, Houston's outstanding quick-side forward, left the team last week and is considering retirement because of a conflict between basketball and his religious beliefs.
"This is something between me, God and the church," the five-year veteran with a 13.4 scoring average said in his only public statement. Reid's mother is a Pentecostal minister and, according to a source close to the team, she claims to have had a vision in which God told her to bring her son home.
General Manager Ray Patterson, recalling Dave Meyers' sudden retirement from Milwaukee to devote his life to the Jehovah's Witness faith, says he won't make a decision on a replacement for a couple of weeks. Reid is on the suspended list and each game he misses costs him $4,000.
QUIZ: Although the Dallas Mavericks have been in existence for only 18 months, only two players selected in the expansion draft remain on the team. Can you name those players? (answer below) . . . Kansas City's Scott Wedman, sidelined earlier with back spasms, now has a broken foot and is expected to miss another month . . . The big day for borderline players is Dec. 24. Anyone who's on an NBA team Christmas day gets paid for the entire season.
Did you hear about Ted Stepien's latest promotion? Cleveland's eccentric owner said that if the Cavaliers won their first game under new Coach Chuck Daly, he would pay $1 to everyone in attendance. Only 3,144 showed up that night in Richfield to see the Cavaliers beat Atlanta in overtime . . . Toby Knight says he has almost completed his long rehabilitation from knee surgery more than a year ago and hopes to rejoin the New York Knicks in another week. That could mean a sad holiday season for Hollis Copeland.
Now that Marques Johnson has signed his new eight-year, $8 million contract in Milwaukee and Eddie Johnson is back with Atlanta, it's time for our annual Johnson count. First, guess how many. Then, try to name them. We get an all-time high of 14: Frank (Washington), Ollie (Philadelphia), Dennis (Phoenix), Vinnie (Seattle), Magic (L.A.), Eddie (Atlanta) and four teams with two, Marques and Mickey in Milwaukee, Steve and Eddie in Kansas City, George and Reggie in San Antonio and Clemon and George in Indiana.
This year's forgotten man is Larry Kenon, an all-star in '78 and '79, who has played exactly 36 minutes for Chicago so far after showing up late to training camp and demanding to be traded . . . North Carolina's Al Wood is back on Atlanta's injury list with a bad knee after playing just 53 minutes this season . . . Walter Davis was due back from the injured list last Thursday, but after working out, Phoenix's all-star guard said he still had some discomfort in his ailing elbow.
Ricky Mahorn was fined only $500 for his altercation with John Long in Detroit recently because, a league official said, "he's not making any money." . . . Matt Guokas, longtime radio announcer for the 76ers, may follow Pat Riley into the coaching ranks. He's the odds-on favorite to replace Chuck Daly in Philadelphia . . . Incidentally, did you know that Riley, who succeeded Paul Westhead at Los Angeles, was an 11th-round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys although he played only basketball at Kentucky?
QUIZ ANSWER: The two remaining Mavericks are Tom LaGarde and Jim Spanarkel, who lost his starting job to Aquirre and now Vincent this season . . . Quote of the week comes from that endless source in San Francisco, Lloyd Free, who has changed his name to World B. Free. When asked, if he gets married, what would he call his first son, he replied, "Second World B. Free."