Among the NBA culprits were the Timberwolves, who cut Legler in 1990 only 45 minutes before his contract would have become guaranteed, and the Mavericks, who two seasons ago told reporters they had renounced their rights to Legler before they so informed him. Yet Legler says the biggest disappointment came in Denver, in 1991, when he was released after playing on back-to-back 10-day contracts. His roommate then, forward Anthony Mason, was less fortunate; he was waived after his first 10-day deal had expired. "The Nuggets never gave us a chance," says Legler, who averaged 5.8 points and 14.8 minutes in 10 games with Denver but going into the break was averaging 9.2 points in 23.5 minutes and shooting a league-best 51% from three-point range for Washington. "Every time I watched Anthony in the NBA after that, it gave me hope."
Cleveland will host next year's All-Star Game, but the venue for 1998 remains undetermined. There are a couple of predictable entries: Portland, which opened the Rose Garden this season, and Philadelphia, which is constructing an arena that is scheduled for completion in January '98. But there's also a surprising bidder: New York. Knicks president Dave Checketts submitted a lengthy presentation to a committee headed by NBA commissioner David Stern. It included a video in which David Letterman lists the top 10 reasons why the '98 game should be in Gotham, as well as testimonials about the city from Woody Allen, Tom Brokaw and Bill Murray.
New York hasn't hosted the All-Star Game since 1968, but the trend has been to award the big game to franchises with new buildings. Checketts says that criterion is unfair to his organization, which recently spent $200 million to refurbish Madison Square Garden. "We have presented some very creative things that could give a nice twist to this event," says Checketts. "We have resources, including a 5,500-seat theater, to provide something different."
NBA sources say that while New York is intriguing to Stern, he has not ruled out Portland, which has never hosted the game. According to league sources, however, Portland has not persuaded the NBA that it has the hotel space to accommodate what has become a gargantuan gala.
Line of the Week
Clippers guard Brent Barry at last Saturday's All-Star festivities: 17 MIN, 4-10 FG, 8 points, 4 assists, 5 steals, 1 slam dunk championship. Barry finally brought the Clippers some All-Star respect, first with his spirited performance in the rookie game, then when he locked up the slam dunk title with a high-flying jam in which he lifted off from the foul line.
Around the All-Star Rim
Count Jazz forward Karl Malone among those speculating about which stars in the next generation will carry the torch for the NBA. Through the All-Star break, average attendance compared with the 1994-95 season was down in 11 cities, including Atlanta, Cleveland and San Antonio, and Malone says that should be cause for concern. "That tells you right there the appeal isn't the same," he says. "We should be building smaller arenas, not bigger ones." Malone thinks he knows what's wrong. "The people doing crazy stuff get all the glory," he says, "and the guys who just go out, play hard and be nice get lost in the shuffle." ...Swap of the Week: Knicks Charles Smith and Monty Williams to the Spurs for J.R. Reid, Brad Lohaus and a first-round pick. New York dumped two long-term contracts to give itself room under the salary cap to spend on free agents this summer. Asked for his take on the trade, Knicks center Patrick Ewing said, "I'm playing for this year. I don't know what management is doing." ...Golden State continues to listen to offers for unhappy Tim Hardaway, but his contract is up this summer, and the Warriors like the idea of hanging on to his $3.8 million salary slot, which they could use in the free-agent market in the off-season....
All-Star exchange: Bucks forward Vin Baker told Nuggets center Dikembe Mutombo, who will be a free agent after the season, that he would love to play alongside him. "You're not talking about Milwaukee?" Mutombo replied. "I don't want to be anywhere that gets to be 40 below. Forget the money. I want to [be able to] go outside and walk my dog." Mutombo's dog must love those balmy Denver winters.