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THE INSIDE TRACK | NOTES ON A SCORECARD / ALLAN MALAMUD

For Shaq, Even Freebies Prove to Be Quite Costly

July 22, 1996|Allan Malamud

Funny, but the word free often is mentioned in the same sentence with Shaquille O'Neal. . . .

Free as in free-throw shooting. . . .

O'Neal's is pathetic. . . .

It cost the Orlando Magic a few games when opponents purposely fouled him at crunch time, and he kept missing from the line, where he shot 48.7% during the 1995-96 regular season and 39.3% during the playoffs. . . .

I have a suggestion for his new employer. . . .

Put Bill Sharman on the case. . . .

Sharman, the former coach and general manager, is a special consultant for the Lakers. . . .

I'm not sure what that means, but he is just the person to teach the $120-Million Man how to deliver the one-point shot. . . .

Sharman was an 88.3% free-throw shooter during his 11-season NBA career, sixth best on the all-time list. . . .

Granted, Sharman, as Laker head coach in 1971-72 and 1972-73, couldn't do anything to improve the percentage of another 7-footer who was futile from the line, Wilt Chamberlain. . . .

But those were the last two seasons of Chamberlain's career, and he was a bit set in his ways at that juncture. . . .

O'Neal is only 24 and, presumably, still open to advice. . . .

Sharman long has suffered from vocal chord problems, but his voice has grown stronger the last couple of years. . . .

The Lakers probably will be favorites in the Pacific Division, but it would be unwise to count the defending champion Seattle SuperSonics out. . . .

Seattle will survive the loss of Ervin Johnson. . . .

Speaking of Ervin Johnson, was anyone surprised that NBC Olympic basketball commentator Earvin Johnson said he might want to rejoin the Lakers in January when he is eligible? . . .

Oh, you thought Magic would say he wanted to come back in November. . . .

How much difference will Wayne Gretzky make at the Madison Square Garden turnstiles for the New York Rangers? None. They sell out every home game, no matter who is in uniform. . . .

Being reunited with Mark Messier might help Gretzky, and vice versa, but a couple of sips from the fountain of youth would do more for them. . . .

Look-alikes: U.S. Olympic bronze-medalist swimmer Angel Martino and actress Lolita Davidovich. . . .

It was nice to see Mark Spitz saluted during the opening ceremonies in Atlanta. . . .

Olympic referees seem to be giving fighters fewer warnings and letting them fight more. . . .

If I had my way, NBC would show more volleyball and less gymnastics. . . .

When the Angels released Tim Wallach, it probably meant the end of the distinguished career of one of the classiest performers in baseball. . . .

Todd Hollandsworth belongs in the Dodger lineup every day whether the opposing pitcher is right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous. . . .

From July 5 until the ninth inning on Sunday, Eric Karros had driven in three runs and committed five errors. . . .

The 10-run rule in the Olympic Games wouldn't go over very well at Coors Field. . . .

Never can count out those San Francisco Rockies when the Dodgers are at Candlestick Park. . . .

All the interest being shown by teams in Jack Morris, 41, demonstrates just how little quality pitching there is. . . .

A memorial service for race driver Jeff Krosnoff, who died in a crash in Toronto on July 14, will be conducted today from 5 to 9 p.m. at Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge. In lieu of flowers, Krosnoff's family is establishing a fund in his memory. . . .

Ferd Hernandez, the former middleweight contender and referee who died last week at 57 after a long illness, won a decision over Sugar Ray Robinson at Las Vegas in 1965, the last year of Robinson's career. . . .

The disappointing Hollywood Park meeting that ends today is the latest example of why the number of thoroughbred racing dates in Southern California should be cut significantly. . . .

What a choker that Greg Norman is. He failed to win the British Open even though he trailed by only 12 strokes after three rounds. . . .

Name game: On the same day that Shaquille O'Neal signed with the Lakers, Karim Abdul-Jabbar signed with the Miami Dolphins.

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