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Sixers go `forward' in basketball draft; Inkster rolling now

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The Boston Celtics, already chockablock with winning players, will have to make room for one more next season. That's because the reigning champions just selected 6 ft. 8 in. forward Len Bias of Maryland, perhaps the best athlete available in this week's National Basketball Association draft, which was one of the deepest ever. Bias was not even the first player chosen. That distinction belonged to North Carolina's Brad Daugherty, whose 7-foot height had considerable appeal for the Cleveland Cavaliers. To get the top-rated pivot prospect, the Cavs were willing to make an 11th-hour trade with the Philadelphia 76ers, who will receive veteran Roy Hinson, an all-star-caliber forward, and ``other considerations'' in return.

The Sixers, however, didn't stop there, making another last-minute, blockbuster deal with the Washington Bullets. This multi-player swap sent 6-10 center Moses Malone and 6-6 forward Terry Catledge to the nation's capital in exchange for two other strapping front-court players, 6-10 center Jeff Ruland and 6-9 forward Cliff Robinson.

Pat Williams, the 76ers' general manager, accurately called it ``a dramatic day in the history of the organization,'' then added, ``We now have the finest group of forwards in the league.'' While some teams (Boston, for example) might argue that point, Philly is in the clover, at least in the corners, where Hinson and Robinson will operate in rotation with Julius Erving and Charles Barkley.

To the shock of many observers, the Sixers basically ignored what many feel is their greatest need, which is pure height. They were one of the shortest teams in the league last year, and seemingly a cinch to pick Daugherty or another of the talented seven-footers coming out of college.

With Boston in the same division, the situation seemed especially urgent. Then, too, the NBA final, which saw Boston's skyscrapers (Robert Parish, Bill Walton, Kevin McHale) square off against Houston's Twin Towers (Akeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson), underlined the importance of big men around the entire league.


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