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Morning Briefing

How Raymond Lewis Was Set Free

March 15, 1985

Those who marveled at his shooting for Verbum Dei High School and Cal State L.A. never understood how Raymond Lewis failed to make it in the NBA.

Maybe it was a matter of a sharpshooter from Los Angeles running into a faster gun from Brooklyn.

When Lewis reported to the Philadelphia 76ers in 1975, also reporting was Lloyd Free, a hardship draftee from Guilford College. Free, who eventually adopted his nickname of World, was a product of Brooklyn's tough Brownsville section.

He would say later, "I played against talented people on the playgrounds all my life. I thought they were the pros. I didn't have a lot of respect for a lot of people I later met in the NBA."

Former Philadelphia reporter Bill Livingston, now with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, remembers when Lewis, the big name in camp, first went head-to-head with Free in practice.

"Lewis threw his entire bag of spins and twists and whirlaway shim-shimmies at Free," Livingston said. "Calmly, Free swatted his shot into the stands. The next day, Lewis sat out practice with a bad back. Two days later, he was gone.

"World B. Free, even then, could do that to you."

Mark Eaton of Utah and Ralph Sampson of Houston are both listed at 7-4, but Eaton says, "I'd say I'm about two inches taller than Ralph when we line up. I've also been told that Ralph has never been measured in the pros.

"I asked the Houston trainer about that. He shrugged and said, 'If he wants to be 7-4, then he's 7-4. After all, he is Ralph Sampson.' "

Trivia Time: In Nebraska's 79-66 win over Canisius in an NIT opener, Dave Hoppen of the Cornhuskers scored 21 points on his 21st birthday. Name a football star who scored 21 points on his 21st birthday in the first half . (Answer below.)

From Houston Coach Bill Fitch, maintaining that Akeem Olajuwon, not Michael Jordan, should be the NBA Rookie of the Year: "If I had to put a team together for a game and the rule was that the winning coach would live and the losing coach would die, I would pick Akeem over Jordan."

Add Fitch: Talking about the weakness of the New York Knicks in the middle, he said: "If Roy Hinson was in New York, they'd probably run him for mayor."

Hinson plays for Cleveland.

A number of people, Ken Denlinger of the Washington Post among them, were surprised when Chris Mullin was picked over Pat Ewing for the John Wooden Award.

Denlinger thinks it might have something to do with "the frequent arrogance of so many involved with Georgetown basketball."

He wrote: "Some schools hustle too hard for publicity; Georgetown sometimes refuses common courtesies to unfamiliar reporters.

"For three years, the response Ewing usually offered to even rather tame postgame questions was: 'I do not wish to discuss that.'

"So a scribe who has been denied the time of day by John Thompson and who leaves Ewing's locker with an empty notebook is not likely to go out of his way to honor either of them."

Trivia Answer: Tom Harmon of Michigan. In the 1940 opener against California at Berkeley, he scored on runs of 96, 70 and 85 yards in the first half and added three conversions. On the third touchdown, he had to dodge an elderly Cal fan who had left the stands and tried to stop him. He wound up with 28 points as Michigan won, 41-0. Yes, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy that year.

Quotebook

Lehigh center Don Henderson, 6-7, describing how Georgetown's Patrick Ewing blocked his shot: "I didn't really know he was directly behind me, and when I turned, I saw nothing but The Hand, and I knew it was all over."

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