Former Portland Trail Blazer Kermit Washington, an all-America at American University in 1973, says he wants to put on a Trail Blazers uniform again and rejoin the National Basketball Association at the advanced age of 35.

"If I didn't know me, and I was hearing this about someone else, I'd say, 'That guy is a fool,' " Washington said.

The 6-foot-8 power forward last played in the NBA during the 1981-82 season, and then for just 20 games. Lingering injuries, including a bad back, forced him to quit.

"There was never any structural damage to my back," Washington said. "But I was in pain all the time." Following his retirement, he was an assistant basketball coach at Stanford for two seasons and most recently was strength and conditioning coach at the school.

He since has taken a leave of absence from that job, brought his family to the Portland area and is buying a house. He plans to undergo a more strenuous training program and in the next month make a decision whether to continue the comeback with an appearance at the team's fall training camp, which begins Oct. 9. "Some people climb mountains, but I'm afraid of heights," Washington said. "I like challenges."

"If we could have a Kermit Washington back, even at half of what he was, for 10 or 15 minutes a game, it would be great," said Trail Blazers President Harry Glickman. "But we don't know yet about him." . . .

Seattle SuperSonics guard Eddie Johnson has been arrested on bad-check charges and has been suspended from the NBA for failing to follow through on drug counseling, officials said. Johnson, 31, was arrested in his home town of Atlanta on Wednesday on charges of writing bad checks and theft of services.

Johnson was being held on $800 bail pending arraignment Wednesday on charges stemming from a bad check of $380, written to a hotel, and an unpaid $114 taxi fare.