Washington Bullets Coach Gene Shue was present, as was Fred Carter, the team's new assistant coach. General Manager Bob Ferry also made an appearance, as did center Jeff Ruland, his right arm in a sling from recent shoulder surgery. Apart from all that, there was little to indicate that yesterday's gathering at Bowie State College -- the opening of Washington's pre-training camp -- marked the beginning of the 1985-86 NBA season.
There were 19 players present, but Kenny Green, the Bullets' first-round pick in June's draft, was not among them. The 6-foot-6 forward has yet to sign a contract. Another unsigned player, 7-6 center Manute Bol, was on hand, although he didn't practice because of a bruise over his right knee.
Green, and to some extent Bol, almost are guaranteed spots with the Bullets for the upcoming season. Ostensibly, the goal of the other players at Bowie is to earn spots on the roster, although reality dictates a more prudent aim: to survive the series of two-a-day practices that will last until Monday, then hope to be selected to play in next week's minicamp scrimmages at Princeton University against rookies from the Knicks, Nets and 76ers.
If a rookie gets that far and a favorable-enough impression is made in New Jersey, he may be asked back to join the Bullets' veterans for training camp. The goal then would be to beat out Ruland, Cliff Robinson, Jeff Malone or someone else on the 12-man roster.
"The odds are against most rookies, but you never know where you might find a player," said Ferry.
With the departure of assistant coach Bernie Bickerstaff to the Seattle SuperSonics, the Bullets opted not to sponsor a team in the summer league, preferring to place Shue, and particularly Carter, in a more controlled environment.
It was apparent by the end of the morning's two-hour session yesterday that the players were exhausted and that Carter, whose style of play during his NBA career earned him the nickname, "Mad Dog," wasn't worried about that.
"If you're trying to make an NBA team, then you have to impress the coaches, and the way to do that is to show that you don't tire easily," Carter said.
The nonstop pace fostered a prolonged stretch of errors, as the players -- with the exception of Bullets second-year guard Tom Sewell and center Tom Piotrowski, who spent a season with the Portland Trail Blazers -- got their first taste of the NBA's style of play.
Guard Vernon Moore, one of the team's third-round choices, said, "Everyone I spoke with said to be in shape because there was a lot of running, but I didn't expect it to be like this."