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With a nervous chuckle, Bryce Drew made quite a disturbing observation.

"It would be really crazy if football and basketball were locked out together. It would be nuts," said Valparaiso University's recently-named men's basketball coach.

With the old collective bargaining agreement having expired at midnight Thursday, the long-anticipated NBA lockout is now a reality with team owners and the players' association literally on different planets in their attempts to hammer out a new deal.

The NFL lockout is in its fourth month.

The last NBA work stoppage occurred during the 1998-99 season and caused 464 games to be lost. It lasted 204 days with the lockout beginning July 1 and ending Jan. 20 -- shortening the regular season to 50 games. The first actual game was held Feb. 5.

Drew was a rookie guard with the Houston Rockets that season. Training camps had been postponed indefinitely, exhibition games were canceled, as was the NBA All-Star Game.

Welcome to your life-long dream, kid.

"I think it was harder than being a veteran player because we (rookies) didn't get a summer league in which to get adjusted to the NBA game," Drew said.

"With the lockout, we couldn't do anything and then all of a sudden we show up (after the settlement), have three or four days of practice and then you're playing (two) exhibition games."

The short season cost players half their salary.

Among Drew's teammates his rookie year were Thornridge grad Sam Mack, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon, Brent Price and Michael Dickerson.

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Also affected was a third region player -- Gary's Glenn Robinson -- the No. 1 overall draft pick of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1994.

Drew was able to save some money by moving in with his parents in Valparaiso. Homer Drew, Bryce's father, was the men's coach at VU so his youngest son worked out on campus and later with Steve Kerr in Chicago.

"Back then, with the car deals and shoe (endorsement) deals, you could get a little bit of money," Bryce said. "Nowadays, it's a lot harder. Maybe not for the elite players, but for the majority, it's not as good as it was then."

Once the season resumed, he appeared in 34 games, averaging 3.5 ppg. and converting all eight of his free-throw attempts. He played in one postseason game and scored two points.

Sam Mack contributed 9.2 ppg. in 25 regular-season games with Houston. Glenn Robinson averaged 18.4 ppg. in 47 starts with the Bucks.

Neither Mack nor Robinson could be reached for comment.

Being new to the NBA life, Drew said he didn't see a real dropoff in performance by the veterans when the games finally began.

"I was taking a huge jump so everybody was really, really good to me," he said. "A lot of the veteran guys don't pick up a ball until a week before camp. They've done it for so long, it only takes them a week or two and they're back in rare form."

Drew played 1 1/2 seasons for the Rockets before stints with Chicago, Charlotte and New Orleans.

He retired after the 2003-04 season with a career scoring average of 4.4 points over 243 games. 

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Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.