23 August-16 September 1996 1996
Top News Items between 23 August and 16 September 1996:

<-- Back to 10 August 1996 Forward to 25 September 1996 -->

In a trial that began August 23, the Harlem Wizards, a professional basketball team that has played throughout the U.S. and in five continents over the past 35 years, took the NBA to court over a trademark dispute over the name "Wizards." This suit was filed back in June. Nobody has any clue how this one will turn out (some $$$ for the Harlem Wizards?), but the name confusion purportedly is already underway.

According to Harlem Wizards player-coach "Sudden Sam" Worthen: "We are the only team in the world that combines the funny stuff, the tricky stuff with serious competitive basketball. We do it all over the USA, and since I've been here we've also played professional teams in Italy, Poland and Belgium. I take pride in doing that, and I don't want to take a back seat to another team, even it is is an NBA team."

"Tojo" Henderson, a Harlem Wizard for the past 25 years, said: "The Washington Wizards haven't even started playing yet, and young people are already asking me if I am a Washington Wizard. I do many school assembly programs -- perhaps we see 150,000 kids per year during the school day. We do a fun and exciting show, as well as deliver a heartfelt message to the kids before we leave each show. I want the kids to know I'm a Harlem Wizard, and it's with the Harlem Wizards that I've had an opportunity to be a voice that impacts young people in a positive way."

For those of you that don't like the Wizards name, this may offer a glimmer of hope. But don't hold out too much hope. The suit targets the NBA, not Washington, so owner Abe Pollin won't be affected. However, I would expect this one to be settled by the end of the year.

wtf 25 August 1996
To Top of Page...

Well, it's the quiet time of the NBA season--between the first month of free agency and training camp--when very little is happening except teams try to fill out the rest of their rosters. And lo and behold, I open the Tuesday sports section and get faced with a HUGE picture of Gheorghe Muresan fishing. Apparently, Big Gheorghe loves fishing, and the Washington Post's outdoors columnist Angus Phillips devoted a column to it.

His friend, Armand McLean, calls Gheorghe "the human tuna tower" for his ability to spot schools of breaking fish under flocks of birds from far greater distances than everyone else. I guess being tall is advantageous for more than just blocking shots.

Imagine a 7'7" man standing in a 32-foot boot--an interesting image. And potentially a dangerous one, with such a high center of gravity and not a particularly stable base in the undulating waves. But, luckily, Muresan did not go overboard.

Muresan likes fishing both on a boat and on shore. In particular, he likes the peace and seclusion of shore fishing, but it's sometimes tough staying anonymous. At one location near Sandy Point State Park (at the west end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge), Gheorghe tries to hide in a wooded area behind a tree, but it is often fruitless. He likes to eat what he catches, as opposed to releasing his catch.

Yet another example of your Bullets relaxing in the off season. You wouldn't guess this about Gheorghe at first, but he enjoys it, and that's what matters most.

wtf 5 September 1996
To Top of Page...

Well, the Bullets took another step closer to filling out their roster. They signed free agent forward Ashraf Amaya, who was with the Vancouver Grizzlies last year. The 6'7", 249 pound forward led the Grizzlies in scoring twice and rebounding 12 times last year. Said Bullets GM Wes Unseld: "Ashraf Amaya is a big, strong player who can rebound and defend. We believe that his addition will add depth to our front court and make the Bullets a better ball club."

His stats from last year aren't overwhelming, but he's an active player. He didn't quit in the Grizzlies/Bullets game I saw last season. He started 34 games for the Grizzlies last year.

Yr Tm FGA FGM FG% FTA FTM FT% 3PA 3PM 3FG% PPG 95-96 Van 252 121 48.0 149 97 65.1 0 1 0.0 6.3 Totals 252 121 48.0 149 97 65.1 0 1 0.0 6.3 Yr G Min MPG Reb Ast Blk St TO PF(DQ) 95-96 54 1104 20.4 303 33 10 22 57 151(3) Totals 54 1104 20.4 303 33 10 22 57 151(3)

Prior to last season, Amaya played in Greece in 1994-95 with the Ampelokipi Afisorama, averaging 14.1 points and 9.7 rebounds. The previous season, he played in the CBA with the Quad City Thunder and Fort Wayne Fury, averaging 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds. He played his college ball at Southern Illinois University, being named Missouri Valley Conference player of the year in 1992-93 and twice named MVC defensive player of the year.

The Bullets now have a solid bench for their front court (Lorenzo Williams, Ashraf Amaya, Harvey Grant). They aren't necessarily big scoring threats (excpet possibly Grant, although he's not the same as he was in his previous stint with the Bullets), but they are active defensive players who can eat glass. This is key, allowing our starters to get rest without sacrificing on the boards--the offense is there from the starters, plus Murray and Whitney. This is a nice mix, if it gels on the court. Let's hope everyone can play their role.

wtf 5 September 1996
To Top of Page...

Well, the autopsy reports are in on the death of Bullets assistant coach Derek Smith. According to Ellen Borakove, a spokesman for the New York City medical examiner's office, Smith died of cardiac arhythmia caused by the degeneration of the mitral valve of the heart. The condition is difficult to detect, even in individuals who have regular exams.

When the connective tissue that makes up the mitral valve of the heart degenerates, it may cause the valve to leak or develop other problems. Patients with such a condition may also be more prone to life-threatening abnormalities of the electrical rhythm of the heart. However, it is not a common occurence in healthy young people. (Although it often seems more common in taller athletes, such as basketball and volleyball players.)

There was no sign of alcohol or drugs, including motion sickness medication, in his body, according to toxicology reports. It's a sad way for a young life to end, and we continue to offer our condolences to the Smith family as they try to move on from this tragedy.

wtf 6 September 1996
To Top of Page...

When will Rasheed ever learn? You don't think this had something to do with the club giving up on him so fast and dealing him to the Trailblazers? (This should be the last time I have to write about Rasheed.)

Rasheed Wallace was found not guilty on September 4 of using a car to block the mother of his child as she tried to leave a parking lot at Toddlers Academy in Durham, NC on June 19. His and her 1-year old child is enrolled there. He was accused of a misdemeanor assault in this case.

Earlier this summer, Wallace recieved a deferred prosecution on a charge that arose when he allegedly choked Ms. Bryant at her apartment.

wtf 6 September 1996
To Top of Page...

J.A. Adande wrote in the Washington Post this weekend on the status of several key players for the Bullets. This is especially important, as training camp is less than a month away (October 4).

  • Chris Webber has been cleared to play, according to GM Wes Unseld. All indications are that he's fully recovered from his February 1 shoulder surgery. I'm sure we're all interested in seeing what he will do this year.
  • Gheorghe Muresan has recovered from his right knee sprain in April that caused him to miss the end of hte season. According to Bullets trainer Kevin Johnson: "His [Muresan's] knee's healthy. Gheorghe has scrimmaged a few times and looked pretty good.
  • Tim Legler is recovering from his knee surgery, actually progressing to the point of shooting baskets. However, he is not playing, as it's probably still a little early for serious cutting footwork. This is good news. The team is expectin ghim to return in January, though don't be surprised if it's a little earlier.
  • There is no news on whether Rod Strickland will report to training camp or not. The Bullets are in no position to offer Rod more money, and Unseld hasn't talked to Strickland in over a month. The Bullets are not looking to try and trade him, and no team has inquired about him. As for training camp, the Bullets are inviting 20 players, although roster spots will be scarce with 11 slots already committed (Muresan, Webber, Howard, Whitney, Cheaney, Lorenzo Williams, Ashraf Amaya, Tracy Murray, Harvey Grant, Rod Strickland, and Ronnie Henderson). The countdown continues...

    wtf 15 September 1996
    To Top of Page...

    Well, one more pre-season game has been added for the Bullets. They will be playing the New Jersey Nets at the Mullins Center in Amherst, MA on October 13. This game is significant because it marks the return of former U.Mass./current Nets coach John Calipari to his stomping grounds of last year. I guess I'm glad the Bullets can oblige him (and probably a nice cut of the gate money, too). The game has been added to the schedule.

    wtf 15 September 1996
    To Top of Page...

    The Washington Bullets have announced that beginning this season, their flagship broadcasting station in the Washington, DC area will be WRC-AM-980. The agreement ends a 3-year association with WTERM-AM-570. As part of the agreement, WTEM has extended its contract with the Washington Capitals (the local NHL team) through the 1998-99 season. That contract had one year remaining at the time.

    According to Washington Sports president Susan O'Malley: "With the Bullets on WRC, we have eliminated the conflicts with Capitals games that were so troublesome a year ago and we have secured a home for Bullets basketball as we enter the MCI Center and beyond." It was noted that there were 33 broadcast conflicts between the Bullets and Capitals last season, and the Bullets always took precedence.

    The Bullets play-by-play announcer, Charlie Slowes, will return for his 11th season and do play-by-play on WRC. WTEM will continue to carry Bullets coach Jim Lynam's weekly show, beginning the week of October 28, 1996. So, for the most part, it's business as usual. Just remember to tune into WRC-980 instead of WTEM if you need to catch the game on the radio.

    wtf 17 September 1996
    To Top of Page...