* I’ve read a couple of times in various forum threads about the case of Johnny Abbarientos & the Charlotte Hornets back in the 90s. The story is slowly but surely becoming sort of an urban legend, & I think it is important that we try to clarify what really happened then.
* Am summarizing the inputs about the issue from various posts by liontamer, neueziel & Jay P. Mercado at the PEx forums last June 2007:
– The story starts w/ the hiring of an American named Jim Kelly by the Presto Tivoli PBA team as a consultant in 1992. Kelly had a pretty good basketball credentials, & I think also had a Pinay for a wife, so he was more or less at home w/ Philippine basketball. As luck would have it, a couple of years later, Kelly was hired by the Toronto Raptors as it’s Asia Scout.
– Jim Kelly was instrumental in promoting the PBA back in the NBA. At that time, the Charlotte Hornets already had the 5’3″ Mugsy Bogues in the lineup, & were looking for a back up Point Guard. Naturally, they would be open to players to within Bogue’s height range, after all, they’ve seen what Bogues can do in the league. Kelly apparently tipped off the Charlotte Hornet’s Scout Joe Betancourt about Johnny A.
– Betancourt did go as far as meet w/ Johnny, Fred Uytengsu (Alaska Team Owner) & Anton Montinola (Johnny’s Manager) regarding Johnny’s prospects of playing in the NBA. Johnny A’s camp was informed during the meeting that if the Hornets do not get another pointguard by a certain date (presumably around the end of the trading deadline), they will formally ask the Johnny A. to a tryout.
– It was also made clear to Johnny A’s camp that the Hornets were looking at a host of pointguards, not only outside the US, but more importantly, even among current reserves of other NBA teams.
– Luck was not on Johnny A’s side, as the Hornets went out instead to sign the Chicago Bulls Guard BJ Armstrong as their back-up, closing the door on Abbarientos.
* NBA teams don’t just hire anybody they like into the team. If a player is really promising, they usually give him an invitation for a TRY OUT. If they like what they see in the tryouts, then that’s the time they negotiate for a contract, usually a short term one. In Johnny’s case, though he was considered, he never got to the try out stage.