David Thompson, Charlotte Hornets' director of community relations, has entered the NBA's drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Van Nuys, Calif., team officials said Thursday.

According to the Hornets' principal owner George Shinn, the team is paying for the program Thompson has entered. Shinn said Thompson will have a job with the team when he returns, "if he satisfactorily completes the program as we intend he will. The idea is to help him and to get him better."Shinn told The Charlotte Obsaerver that Thompson could be in California 30 to 60 days. His release would depend, Shinn said, "on the response of the people he's working with."

"It's not like we tested him for drugs and he tested positive or anything like that. But he missed some scheduled events of late," Shinn said Thursday.

"David tearfully accepted (entering the program). His reaction was that if it would help him and the Hornets, he would do it. It's a tough time of year for him, but he's doing the best thing."

Thompson, a former North Carolina State All-American and professional all-star, had been speaking to groups about his past problems with drug abuse.

Thompson, now 34, first played professionally for the American Basketball Association's Denver Nuggets during the 1975-76 season. The ABA merged with the NBA before the next season, and Thompson's career reached its peak when he averaged 27.2 points a game during the 1976-77 season.

His professional career ended in 1984.