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Morning Briefing

Ali Couldn't Talk Way Onto This List

April 29, 1985

Muhammad Ali, at a tribute to Jack Johnson in Galveston, Tex., said the former heavyweight champion was far ahead of his time.

"He was a great, scientific boxer," Ali said. "He never received recognition for what he did."

Funny thing is, Nat Fleischer, longtime editor of the Ring Record Book, rated Johnson as the greatest heavyweight of all time. At the same time, Fleischer didn't rate Ali, the self-proclaimed greatest ever, among his top 10.

Here are the final ratings of Fleischer, who died in 1972:

1. Jack Johnson; 2. James J. Jeffries; 3. Bob Fitzsimmons; 4. Jack Dempsey; 5. James J. Corbett; 6. Joe Louis; 7. Sam Langford; 8. Gene Tunney; 9. Max Schmeling; 10. Rocky Marciano.

Here's the quote and guess who said it: "I just can't understand all these teams changing managers the way they do. The lack of stability is alarming."

George Steinbrenner said it last Oct. 25 when he announced that Yogi Berra had been rehired as manager of the Yankees.

Add Forgettable Quotes: Said Cleveland Cavaliers' assistant coach Gene Littles of the Milwaukee Bucks: "They lose nothing when they substitute. Most teams get smaller when they substitute. The Bucks get bigger. They have three seven-footers and Don Nelson uses them to wear you down."

He was referring to Alton Lister, Paul Mokeski and Randy Breuer, all of whom were treated with equal disdain Sunday by Philadelphia's Moses Malone.

The Lost Weekend: That collective moan you heard was from sponsors who bought fourth-quarter time in CBS's three televised playoff games Saturday and Sunday.

It was Blowout City as the Lakers won by 24, Philadelphia by 22 and Boston by 34.

Word of Warning: If you're a Celtic fan, don't put too much stock in Sunday's runaway. The Boston record for margin of victory in the playoffs is 40 points--a 121-81 rout of Philadelphia in the first game of the Eastern Conference playoffs in 1982. The 76ers then proceeded to win the series before falling to the Lakers in the championship series.

Base-stealing king Rickey Henderson of the Yankees, born on Christmas Day in 1958, told the Sacramento Bee he was in a race from the start.

"My parents didn't make it to the hospital on time," he said. "I was born in the back seat of a '56 Chevy."

From Pittsburgh Manager Chuck Tanner: "I've managed some of the great relievers in the game--Goose Gossage, Rollie Fingers, Kent Tekulve--and none is going to be better than John Candelaria."

John McGrath of the Denver Post, speculating that Denver Broncos' Coach Dan Reeves will draft William (The Refrigerator) Perry of Clemson: "At 6-1, 360, Reeves can either insert Perry at defensive tackle or harpoon him for valuable oil."

McGrath added: "Perry doesn't know the meaning of the word quit. But then, Clemson students don't know the meanings of a lot of words."

Quotebook

Rickey Henderson of the New York Yankees, on the firing of Yogi Berra by George Steinbrenner: "Shame, shame, shame."

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