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MORNING BRIEFING

Kings' Jester From French Lick Gets In Licks for Sports Editors

November 08, 1994|BILL DWYRE

Jerry Reynolds is the Will Rogers of the NBA. And in a day and age when players strike, leagues lock their players out and fans sulk, a sports humorist is a breath of fresh air.

Reynolds is a longtime member of the Sacramento Kings' front office. He has been general manager, player personnel director, coach, and now, player personnel director again.

Monday, he was the luncheon speaker in Sacramento for the editors representing the Western Region of the Associated Press Sports Editors.

He was also a breath of fresh air.

"If anything I say here changes or improves your life," he said, "you really haven't got a life."

Good point.

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Trivia time: The NBA franchise known now as the Sacramento Kings is one of the NBA's most traveled. Where did the Kings originate?

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Back home in Indiana: Reynolds is from French Lick, Ind., so he obviously has some Larry Bird stories.

"Larry was this big ugly guy," Reynolds said. "But he was the best-looking person in his family, and I'm not just talking about his brothers.

"French Lick had a population of about 1,009, but we lived in the suburbs. His family lived in town. They were poorer then we were, so we made fun of them. It's the American way."

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French Lick, Part Deux: Reynolds said that fame is not only fleeting in French Lick, it is nonexistent.

"My mom still lives back there and she's getting along in years, but my brother is there and helps her out a lot," he said. "A while back, my brother was sick and the yard started growing a lot, and Larry Bird noticed that one day when he drove by. So he went home, got his lawn mower and mowed my mom's yard. When I heard about it, I called my mother and asked her about it and she said, 'Oh, yes, that happened. It was one of Rose Bird's boys, but I'm not sure which one.' "

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The NBA Today: "Ten years ago, the players used to come into the league with big contracts and at least feel guilty about it," Reynolds said. "Now, some guy comes in his rookie year, getting half the rebounds of Karl Malone, and making more money than John Stockton in a lifetime and he feels like he has it coming."

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What makes the world go around? "Invariably, when they say it ain't about money, it's about money," Reynolds said.

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Seeking ultimate warrior: On some of the new NBA rules, including the one against hand-checking, Reynolds said: "I like the rule. Our league was starting to look like the World Wrestling Federation. Before long, Hulk Hogan would have been playing power forward."

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Life in the NBA fishbowl: "Just think about it, there I was, coaching in the Forum, and being able to argue with Jack Nicholson," Reynolds remembered. "Or watching as Magic Johnson called all the fouls for the referees in the closing minutes. Ah, what a thrill."

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This couldn't happen, could it? Reynolds' thoughts on salaries: "If I had $70 million guaranteed, I might miss a lick or two in some games."

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Reynolds' rap: The Sacramento executive had this thought on the NBA's projected expansion: "There are plenty of players out there for us to come up with a couple of more bad teams."

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Trivia answer: The Kings began life as the Rochester Royals in Rochester, N.Y., in 1948-49. The Royals moved to Cincinnati for the 1957-58 season, then changed their name to the Kings and moved to Kansas City-Omaha in 1972. In 1975, the Omaha part of the franchise was dropped and in 1985 the club moved to Sacramento.

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Quotebook: Reynolds had this final thought about the NBA, a league attuned to international marketing and goodwill, sending the Clippers to Japan for their first two games this season: "Perhaps we don't want the Japanese market."

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