The Washington Bullets may have to run additional tests on forward Bernard King before they can determine exactly what happened to him Sunday at Boston Garden, General Manager John Nash said yesterday.
King took himself out of the Bullets' 119-101 loss early in the third quarter, and soon after was given oxygen and taken to Massachusetts General Hospital on a stretcher. He spent only about an hour there before being discharged. The Bullets said King had an "allergic reaction" and other symptoms, which included an erratic heartbeat. He informed the Bullets both Sunday and yesterday that he would practice today and be available to play Wednesday in Philadelphia.
That still leaves the question of what exactly happened.
"They ruled out some of the more drastic conclusions," Nash said. "They haven't identified to what. They didn't want to disclose what it might have been to the whole world because they didn't perform the tests required. We're going to have to monitor the situation. We may have to work up some tests of our own."
King did not return phone calls yesterday.
Celtics team physician Arnold Scheller just happened to be in Boston for the weekend when King was stricken. Scheller examined King, then returned to Fort Devens in Ayer, Mass., where he's on active duty with reserves as a major in the U.S. Army medical corps. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Also, to shore up their depleted guard corps, the Bullets are expected to bring in Clinton Smith, currently with the Albany Patroons of the Continental Basketball Association, and sign him to a 10-day contract. Smith, a CBA all-star, leads Albany in assists at 7.0 per game, is second in rebounding at 6.3 and is third in scoring at 15.2 on 54-percent shooting. He is coming up today from Pensacola, Fla., where Albany is scheduled to play tonight.
A 6-foot-6, 210-pounder, Smith was part of the Cleveland State team that upset Indiana in the 1986 NCAA tournament. He was drafted by Golden State that year, playing in 41 games and averaging 3.1 points per game. He started the first of four seasons with Albany the next year and was the last cut of the Los Angeles Clippers this season.
But the Bullets' biggest concern right now is King, and making sure he's all right. The fact that King had an erratic heartbeat Sunday should not in and of itself be a cause for alarm, officials said.
"A lot of us have irregular beats," said Sam Fox, a professor of medicine and director of Preventive Cardiology and Exercise Programs at Georgetown University Hospital. "That's what we tell people when they get on our treadmill. . . . There are a lot of people who have irregular beats and go through their lives without any problems."
As far as allergies, "you can rule out trees, grasses, ragweed, because it's not the season," said Dean Metcalfe, a senior investigator and allergist at the National Institutes of Health. "You can't rule out dust or mold spores. That's a really old building. But you would think if dust was a problem, it would have come up more often. . . . The fact that it happened indoors doesn't help you at all."
Metcalfe said allergies can develop at any age. But without knowing King's medical history -- that is, what, if anything, King is allergic to -- it's difficult to judge exactly what occurred.
"What's suspicious is that it happened four minutes after the half," Metcalfe said. "Certainly four minutes is part of a temporal sequence that suggests that whatever he was exposed to happened in the locker room. Maybe he had something to eat, or a drink."
The rest of the injury picture has brightened a little for the Bullets. Mark Alarie was cleared to practice by ophthalmologist Martin Kolsky after an examination yesterday morning, despite a little bit of blood remaining in his right eye, the orbit of which was lacerated Thursday. Alarie will wear protective goggles.
Ledell Eackles also got the green light to practice after missing two games with flu. If he's not too weakened, he probably will be back in the starting lineup when the Bullets play in Philadelphia Wednesday. At the least, Washington will have a three-guard rotation again after using King, Harvey Grant and Tom Hammonds at off guard at times Sunday.
Pervis Ellison (back spasms) and Charles Jones (hamstring) are still day-to-day. The word on Haywoode Workman is a little murkier, however. The club also is listing him as day-to-day, but his strained groin may keep him out a little longer. Nash listed him as "a major question mark. . . . Our most immediate need is guard. The frontcourt is going to be a little better off with the availability of Mark Alarie. And we think Pervis will be available to us Wednesday."
Coach Wes Unseld again ruled out activating John Williams after seeing the forward work out yesterday. "He thinks he's ready," Unseld said. "I think he's not. Maybe after another practice. Maybe two. I don't know."
Unseld did allow that activating Williams could help in that Williams is still one of Washington's best ballhandlers and could assist in breaking pressure from defensive traps.