Gminski Remains Surprised By Deal

Posted: March 30, 1991

Mike Gminski walked the familiar corridors of the Spectrum last night and had to remind himself to take a sharp left at the visitors' locker room. He had been there before, during seven seasons of toil for the New Jersey Nets. And now, after going from the 76ers to the Charlotte Hornets in a January trade, he was once again a stranger in a familiar land.

The poor shooting that had caused the Sixers to trade Gminski had turned around, just as Gminski had predicted it would. And the Sixers, without a frontcourt player who could shoot effectively from the perimeter, had struggled in his absence. Gminski had noticed that, too.

"If I was the first player in the history of the game to go through a slump, I might understand the rationale behind it a little more," Gminski said before last night's 124-107 victory by the Sixers over the Hornets. "But since the trade, I'm shooting better (49 percent) than the guy they brought in here (Armon Gilliam, who is shooting 46 percent). The team's record is under .500 since I left."

Putting those things together, what did they indicate about the wisdom of the trade from the Sixers' point of view?

"I didn't go to a very good school," said Gminski, a Duke graduate, by way of a dodge. "I never took deductive logic or reasoning.

"I'd have to say it looks bad for this season. But maybe, in the long run, it will work out for them. But who's to say when patience ends with this team and things go in a different direction?"

The Sixers, 19-11 before the Jan. 4 trade, have gone 20-21 since. The offense that was supposed to be bolstered by the addition of Gilliam has sagged even more.

"If you look at the successful franchises, they have a consistency to them - at least among the core of players," Gminski said. "I thought we had that core.

"I'm an 11-year veteran, but I'm 31 years old, and I think I've got six or seven good years of basketball left in me. So I think I could have been an asset a lot longer than they did.

"We had a good chemistry. What we had in that locker room last year was a big part of what made us what we were. I don't know if that's there anymore."

Whatever turmoil the Sixers have gone through this season began with the loss of point guard Johnny Dawkins to a knee injury in the first week. Since then, they have been troubled in other ways. Frustration has been building, especially in team captain Charles Barkley.

Barkley's latest display of frustration - spitting into the stands at New Jersey on Tuesday - landed him a one-game suspension and a stiff fine from the NBA.

"What you have to remember about Charles," Gminski said, "is that the reasons why things happen are good - he's so competitive and wants to win so badly - but how they manifest themselves are bad - toward the refs and the fans.

"I've always thought of him as a carbon copy of John McEnroe. Without that emotion, he couldn't be as good a player, but, unfortunately, sometimes the line gets crossed. It's the same as McEnroe with a linesman or a fan. To me, it's a very analogous situation."

Last night, Gminski came back to cheers where there had been boos earlier in the season. Fans being fickle, that shouldn't have been a surprise.

"I'm the type of player that's more appreciated when he's taken out of a situation," Gminski said. "Because it takes a real basketball person to know what I brought to this team."

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