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Morning Briefing

Russell Just Loves His Game

January 24, 1988

When Bill Russell returned to coaching with the Sacramento Kings, K.C. Jones was surprised. He didn't think his old roommate ever again would take a job that would cut into his golf.

"He'll play seven days a week, 36 holes a day, if he could," Jones told the Boston Globe. "He's a maniac. He lives in Seattle, and if he wants to go out and play and it's raining, he'll get on a plane and fly down to California and play there."

Add Russell: He once said: "When I was growing up, my mother wouldn't allow me to go near a golf course. She didn't think the people who played were very nice. Now I play every day, and you know what? She was right."

Add Golf: Larry Bird, who went through a rigorous off-season conditioning program for the first time, told Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune: "One thing I wanted to make sure of is that I could drink beer when I play golf after exercising. I burned off so much working out that it was no problem. I had to have the beer. The golf's improved, too. My handicap is down to a 10. With all this working out, my irons are going longer. Not straighter, but longer."

Add Bird: Revealing that he plans to retire in a couple of years when he's 33, he said: "Ain't the game itself that I want to leave. That's what it's all about, those 48 minutes. It's the other stuff, the politics, the players who don't play hard every night. That's why I like to play the Lakers. The challenge, because you know they're gonna be out there every night to win.

"I love the league, but it's gotten so huge, and it's gonna get worse with the expansion. You'll see more players who don't want to give everything every night, more players who can't."

Trivia Time: What player scored in two Super Bowl games nine years apart? (Answer below.)

Joe Frazier, after picking Larry Holmes to stop Mike Tyson in eight rounds last week, told USA Today: "Tyson ain't no terror. He's really a pussycat. Give me two-three weeks from women and booze and I'd kick his butt. I'm serious."

Patience, Joe. Isn't George Foreman next?

Add Tyson: Asked if he thought he would still be fighting when he reaches Holmes' age, he said: "I just hope I'm alive in 17 years."

Ouch: Asked about Benoit Benjamin of the Clippers, former All-ABA center Mel Daniels, an assistant coach with the Indiana Pacers, told the Boston Globe: "I think he's terrible. I hate him. He's an embarrassment to the team, the NBA, his family, his cat and his dog.

"I remember we interviewed him back in '85 at draft time. He asked if it was all right if he ran at night because he ran better if it was cooler. I almost had to leave the room. I got sick. I can kick his butt right now, and I'm 42 years old."

In picking a Super Bowl winner, John Madden said that if everything else is equal, "The team that whines the least will win. The coach that complains of distractions loses."

He didn't mention names, but he could have mentioned Bud Grant, one of the first complainers. Grant went 0-4 in the Super Bowl. The last loss was to Madden's Oakland Raiders, 32-14.

Maybe the biggest complainer was George Allen with the Washington Redskins in 1973. They lost to the Miami Dolphins, 14-7. That's hardly a disgrace, because Miami was unbeaten, but Washington actually was a one-point favorite.

Trivia Answer: Jim Turner. In 1969, he kicked three field goals and an extra point for the New York Jets in their 16-7 win over the Baltimore Colts. In 1978, he kicked a field goal and an extra point for the Denver Broncos in their 27-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Quotebook

Johnny Kerr, coach of the East team in the National Basketball Assn. old-timers' game Feb. 6 at Chicago: "My job is to make sure everyone gets to all the parties."

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