Does Bernard King think he's an all-star?
"I would like to be," he said. "There's a difference. When I was in New York I thought I should be an all-star. I would like to be an all-star now. The reasoning for that today is a little bit different. I think it would be an incredible feat for anyone -- not me, anyone -- to come back from such a devastating knee injury and participate in an all-star game after having a knee reconstructed. I think that would be incredible."
That's why King is in a tough situation, even though he's third in the league in scoring entering tonight's Bullets-Philadelphia 76ers game at Baltimore Arena. Does he sacrifice points to help in other areas or score more to ensure all-star selection?
All-star games are for superstars and players on winning teams. No exceptions, even for really good players, which King is, on mediocre teams. It's anathema to someone like King, who also is second on the Bullets in assists.
At the start of the month, King had accounted for 29.6 percent of Washington's offense. Before Saturday's game, when he scored 46 points, that percentage was down to 28.4. Good for the team, bad for King's chances.
Tonight's game matches the league's second- and third-leading scorers, Charles Barkley and King. The last time they met, King had 33 points with four minutes to go in the third quarter. But he sat out much of the fourth, and by the time he returned the Bullets were in the process of blowing a 10-point lead with less than five minutes to go. He didn't score again and Philadelphia won in overtime.
Both Barkley and King have continued playing at all-star standards, but Barkley's team is second in the Atlantic Division and he seems sure of his place for the game in Charlotte, N.C.
Barkley and Larry Bird are locks at forward. That leaves King in a group of players including the perennials (Dominique Wilkins also) and the newcomers (Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman).
Wilkins? Human Highlight Film. Pippen? On a winner, big exposure. Rodman? Simply put, does the league want to showcase defense again?