Given a choice between playing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and the rest of the defending-NBA-champion Los Angeles Lakers and joining the Washington Bullets, which would you select? For many people, the choice would seem rather clear cut. Yet, when the time came for David Henderson to make the decision, it was goodbye to Hollywood.

"I was scheduled to go back. There was a ticket waiting for me at the airport and everything but I just really wanted to stay here," Henderson said yesterday following a workout at the Bullets' rookie/free agent camp at Bowie State. "I enjoyed the summer out there. It's a great organization, but sometimes I guess people get different feelings about things."

One of the last two players cut by the Bullets a year ago, the former Duke star was one of the mainstays on the Lakers' title-winning entry in the Southern California Summer Pro League in Los Angeles. Alternating between big guard and small forward, Henderson, 6 feet 6, played well enough to give himself a good chance at making the Lakers. However, he knew his chances of breaking into their eight-man rotation and getting substantial playing time weren't as good. Things seemed more promising with the Bullets.

"There could definitely be some spots here, we've got five free agents and you don't know what'll happen," said Coach Kevin Loughery. "In a lot of ways he was the toughest cut last year. David did a very nice job. No one in the organization didn't think that he couldn't play in the NBA. Looking back, maybe we should have kept him on the roster."

Last season, the Bullets didn't make a decision on which players to keep from a group that included Charles Jones, Jay Murphy, Mike O'Koren, Darren Daye and Henderson until the team convened at Baltimore-Washington International Airport to fly to Boston for the first game of the season. Daye and Henderson were released.

"When I look back that's the most vivid memory," said Henderson, who averaged eight points a game in the preseason last year. "I got there, but I didn't know what to expect. I was in the airport and then it was just 'Boom,' but I understood."

Although Henderson considered giving up the game and moving into the business world, he changed his mind and played briefly with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association. By summer, he had received the offer to play with the Lakers.

Now he's back with the Bullets, not having something to prove, he said, but attempting to continue the growth that began in the last year's preseason.

"The reality of being so close made me want to come back and give the game another opportunity," Henderson said. "But this is another year, a different team and a different situation. I'm encouraged that they think well of me, but just because I was here last year doesn't mean I've got it made this year. I don't dwell on the past because I can't get that back -- right now I'm looking at like I'm at point one again."

Yesterday was the first day of work for Henderson, who missed Monday's practices to undergo medical examinations. The star of yesterday's morning session was Mark Davis, a 6-5 free agent guard from Old Dominion. Davis averaged more than 25 points and seven rebounds this summer in the U.S. Basketball League and was the eighth-leading scorer in the Southern California Pro League.

"He looked good {yesterday} but on Monday it was entirely different," said Loughery. "There hasn't been any consistency in any of the performances yet."

The group will practice twice today and cuts will be made on Thursday, when coaches will decide whom to invite to the veterans camp on Friday.