Hornets G Bobby Phills, killed this week racing with a teammate after a morning practice, was remembered yesterday for a competitive streak that drove him to academic honors and athletic accolades.
Hornets teammates shuffled silently into a memorial service in Charlotte, passing an open casket flanked by pictures of the team captain in action. A 6-foot-5 guard, Phills played nine seasons in the NBA.
Starting G David Wesley, who police believe was racing Phills in their modified Porsches when his teammate skidded into oncoming traffic, said Phills was always competing, whether he was playing basketball, golf or a friendly game of blackjack.
"He always had to win, and whatever he didn't do well, he talked enough trash to make you think he was gonna. He was my partner in crime," Wesley said, smiling through tears.
Phills, 30, lost control of his black Porsche on a curving stretch of road about a mile from Charlotte Coliseum. The Hornets had just finished a practice before a scheduled game that evening with the Bulls.
He will be buried Sunday in a private ceremony in Baton Rouge, La., where he grew up and went to college.
* MAGIC RETURNS: Magic Johnson scored 17 points to help Magic M7 to a 94-64 victory over the Sundsvall Dragons in the Swedish basketball league. It was his second league game for the team, which is from the town of Boras. Johnson, 40, bought the team last year.