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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

With a Preference, Punch Line Could Have Been Ruined

March 21, 1997|MAL FLORENCE

Phoenix forward Cedric Ceballos told Bob Young of the Arizona Republic how he was informed he had been traded back to the Suns by the Lakers:

"I was on the treadmill when [Coach Del Harris] called. I thought, 'Great, he's calling to tell me I've been activated [from the injury list] and I'm going to play against Miami.'

"Del said, 'I've got some good news and some bad news. Which do you want first?'

"I told him, 'Just give it to me.'

"Del said, 'The good news is you're probably going to play tonight. The bad news is, it's going to be against Charlotte, not Miami.' "

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Trivia time: Which teams participated in the first men's NCAA tournament basketball game?

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Despair: The Texas Rangers released veteran relief pitcher Duane Ward two days after he was arrested by police in North Port, Fla., on a drunk-driving charge.

When Ward was pulled over, the police asked him how much he'd had to drink. Replied Ward: "Not nearly enough."

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Childish: Detroit Piston Coach Doug Collins and power forward Otis Thorpe's feud over Thorpe's role in the offense has taken a turn for the worse, says Jerry Bembry of the Baltimore Sun.

Bembry writes that Thorpe now does not even acknowledge Collins, ignoring the coach during huddles. Collins has relayed messages to Thorpe on the court through teammates.

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Easy, Bob, easy: Watching the struggling Boston Celtics is painful for Bob Cousy, the former Celtic star and the team's broadcaster for 20 years.

"Some games, I really have to bite my tongue on the air. I get so mad at those guys, I want to run on the court and just wring a few necks."

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FYI: DePaul's George Mikan was a unanimous choice for the all-time National Invitation Tournament team selected by a media panel. Mikan's 53 points against Rhode Island in 1945 remains the single-game NIT scoring record at Madison Square Garden.

Tom Gola of La Salle and Ralph Beard of Kentucky also were unanimous picks. Completing the team were Maurice Stokes of St. Francis of Pennsylvania and Walt Frazier of Southern Illinois.

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Full garage: From the PGA Tour's media guide: Blaine McCallister aced the 16th hole of the Buick Classic last year, winning a new car, the fourth he has won in tour events.

A few more aces and he could open his own dealership.

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Looking back: On this day in 1959, California beat West Virginia for the NCAA basketball championship, 71-70, despite 28 points by the Mountaineers' Jerry West.

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Trivia answer: Villanova defeated Brown, 42-30, on March 17, 1939, in Philadelphia.

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And finally: Brian Cook, attorney for center Adams Oates, who was traded recently by the Boston Bruins to the Washington Capitals:

"I always wanted to represent a player whose jersey would someday hang from the rafters. But unfortunately, in the Bruins' case, I think they wanted to hang it with Adam still in it."

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