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Morning Briefing

After the Latest Act, He Believes in Magic

February 09, 1988

The supercharged shooting of Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins was the story of the NBA All-Star weekend, but Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post said, "My own personal favorite was Magic Johnson.

"I had him for 73 assists in the first half. He would have had more if his teammates held on to his passes, but they were undoubtedly astounded at Magic's ability to pass a basketball through the eye of a needle.

"There's simply no end to the creative, improvisational passes he can throw. My notes are a blur, but I see something about a 45-foot windmill bounce pass, three different kinds of lobs, a look-away behind-the-back shovel, a stand-still in the lane laughing-smiling-joking Meadowlark Lemon over-the-shoulder drop.

"I swear Magic is an illusionist out there. Twice I counted him having six arms. It's like he's playing three-card monte. He shows you the ball at midcourt, then hides it under a huge shell and the next thing you see is Akeem (Olajuwon) jamming it through the hoop. How did it get there? And the amazing thing is, he's never looking at the player he's passing to. Most of the time he's not even looking at the court, but into the crowd. At one point or another he makes personal eye contact with every single person in the stands."

Larry Bird, counting his 2 for 8 in the All-Star game, is now 16 of his last 51, or 31.4%. On three-pointers, he's 3 of 19. So how did he win the Long Distance Shootout?

Well, the prize for the winner was $12,500.

Said Johnson: "When there's money on the line, you never bet against Larry Bird."

Trivia Time: Who holds the rookie record for most points scored in a game in an NBA championship series? (Answer below.)

The big question at the Winter Olympics is how Jamaica came up with a bobsled team.

Said George Fitch, a former U.S. Foreign Service officer who helped foster the idea: "I guess creative minds are a function of the kind of rum you drink. Like most good ideas, this one came in the conducive setting of a bar."

From Oakland pitcher Bob Welch, who says he's comfortable with the designated hitter rule in the American League: "If we're in the late innings and we have men on base, I'd rather see Dave Parker at the plate than Bob Welch."

For What It's Worth: Oregon completed an unprecedented trifecta Saturday when it beat USC at Eugene. It's the first time the Ducks have swept the Trojans in football and basketball in the same school year.

Howie Long told USA Today he doesn't think Al Davis is going to be pressured into hiring a black coach for the Raiders.

"I don't think he's really caught up in the hype about a black coach," Long said. "If the best guy happens to be black, he'll be the next Raider coach."

Trivia Answer: Magic Johnson, with 42 in 1979-80. With Kareem Abdul-Jabbar out with an injury, Johnson played all five positions for the Lakers as they beat the 76ers, 123-107, in the sixth and deciding game at Philadelphia.

Quotebook

ESPN golf analyst Jim Colbert, on why he doesn't get excited when a long shot takes the early lead: "The slums of Chicago are full of first-round leaders."

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