Bogues gives in to Hornets, has MRI on his injured knee

Tuesday, October 7, 1997

By John Delong



Muggsy Bogues consented to the Charlotte Hornets' demands and took an MRI on his left knee last night.

But doctors won't know the results of the exam until this morning, so Bogues may or may not be with the team when it leaves for the West Coast this afternoon in preparation for its exhibition season opener against Golden State on Friday night.

And regardless of the results, Bogues will proceed on with a grievance that he filed against the Hornets through the NBA Players Association over the weekend.

''I still don't know what is going to happen,'' Bogues said last night. ''We'll see what happens with the MRI and we'll see what happens with the grievance. A lot of this stuff is out of my hands right now. I just want to play basketball.''

Bogues, the Hornets' 11-year veteran point guard, missed his fourth straight day of training camp yesterday. He had been refusing to take an MRI, which the team was demanding as part of his pre-camp physical because of his history of knee problems.

Before yesterday, Bogues contended that he should not be required to take another MRI because it was not required of other Hornets' players. So why did he relent last night?

Sources said that Bogues was informed by the NBA Players Association that he would lose his grievance if it came down strictly to a matter of taking or not taking the MRI. But David Falk, Bogues' agent, said that taking the MRI was a prelude to following through with the grievance.

''He feels discriminated against by the Hornets, but he took it because he wants to play basketball,'' Falk said in a telephone interview from his home in suburban Washington, D.C. ''Obviously, with the shortness of training camp, he felt the need to get into camp as quickly as possible.''

Falk and a spokesman for the NBA Players Association confirmed that a grievance was filed against the Hornets for several reasons on Friday. Falk said that he has asked for a hearing in New York on Wednesday, and said that the grievance involved ''multiple counts.''

One of those grievances, sources said, will be in reference to promises supposedly made to Bogues concerning a front-office job with the Hornets after he eventually retired, which were said to be made by owner George Shinn during a meeting with Falk, Bogues and Bob Bass, the Hornets' executive vice president, on August 20.

''I called the meeting on August 20 to avoid this,'' Falk said. ''I'm at the point in my career where I don't want to fight battles I don't need to fight, so I wanted to head some of this off. George gave us assurances that he is not following through on now, and Muggsy is very upset about that in particular. George has been like a father to Muggsy, and if he gives his word, he should honor it.''

The Hornets say it is strictly about Bogues' knee, however. Bogues played 65 games last season, but he has a degenerative condition in the knee with virtually no cartilage remaining. Bass said that the knee was significantly worse after an MRI in Bogues' exit-physical in May than it was last October, so there is a suspicion that the knee is even worse now.

Bass said that he would probably defer to Hornets' doctors on making the call on Bogues' future with the team after the results of last night's MRI are revealed this morning.

Falk, however, continued to contend that Bogues alone should be allowed to make the call, as he was allowed to do throughout last season.

''They know he can play,'' Falk said. ''You can take all the MRIs and bone scans you want to take, but they know he can play. There are only two real issues here. One, how much pain can he tolerate? Two, how much risk is he taking by playing? Only Muggsy Bogues can decide that.''

Bass confirmed that the Hornets have been informed of the grievance, but he said he was not allowed to discuss it because of NBA rules.

© 1997, Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.