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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

'Dollar' Bill Bradley Makes Plenty of Sense

November 12, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

Considering changes in the NBA since he retired more than 20 years ago, "Dollar" Bill Bradley today would be known as $5-Million Bill Bradley.

The value of money, however, is not among subjects he discusses in his new book, "Values of the Game," which the former New York Knick and New Jersey senator will sign tonight at Brentano's in Century City.

While many of us have been turned off by the absurdity of the labor dispute in pro basketball, recruiting excesses on college--and even some high school--campuses and the increasing influence of shoe companies at all levels, Bradley approaches the sport from a refreshingly non-cynical perspective.

Bradley, the former Princeton All-American who played on two NBA championship teams with the Knicks, exiled himself from basketball during three terms in the U.S. Senate.

But he became reacquainted during a visiting professorship last year at Stanford's Institute of International Studies, becoming an avid follower of the Cardinal Final Four team.

"It was the first team I'd gotten into since I played for the Knicks," Bradley, 55, said Wednesday. "The experience awoke something that had been dormant in me for 20 years."

As much as basketball has changed, he found that successful players today still bring the same values to the court that those of his era did--passion, discipline, selflessness, respect, perspective, courage, leadership, responsibility, resilience and imagination.

He incorporated all of them into his game, which was necessary for a player who, as he writes, had a vertical leap roughly the height of a Sunday New York Times.

Many of those values, however, also have been apparent in the games of superior players such as Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and, yes, even Dennis Rodman.

"I don't underestimate the game's problems--the greed, the gratuitous violence, the culture of entertainment," he said. "But the good aspects--the values the game impresses upon those who play it seriously and have good coaches--are as valid as ever."

It's not easy to feel good about NBA players today. But you might have a different perspective after reading Bradley's book. You might even miss them.

*

Kevin Malone has the early lead for next season's executive-of-the-year award for unloading Bobby Bonilla. . . .

His loyal former agent, Dennis Gilbert, insists Bobby Bo will put up great offensive numbers next season for the Mets. . . .

How much do I not believe that? I have a dinner at Spago riding on it. . . .

Gilbert was honored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation at its annual Sports and the Law Awards Dinner on Wednesday night in Century City for his commitment to youth. . . .

He contributed $300,000 for the construction of Dennis Gilbert Field, a new baseball stadium at L.A. Southwest College. . . .

During the conference call to announce the Bonilla trade, Malone introduced Davey Johnson as "the 1999 manager of the year." . . .

I'm skeptical because Johnson doesn't have invaluable experience in the broadcast booth. . . .

Larry Dierker, NL manager of the year, and Joe Torre, expected to be named AL manager of the year today, spent time as television commentators. . . .

Perhaps the Dodgers should have considered Vin Scully or Ross Porter. . . .

The only surprise about the Bonilla trade is that it took so long. He once said he wouldn't let Johnson manage his rotisserie team. . . .

One of the highlights of Hollywood Park's fall meet, which opened Wednesday, is the Dec. 12 Hollywood Futurity. . . .

Real Quiet distinguished himself by winning last year, then went on to win this year's Kentucky Derby and Preakness. . . .

Bob Baffert's leading Triple Crown candidate for next year, Exploit, hasn't been real quiet. . . .

In winning the Iroquois Stakes on the undercard at Churchill Downs on Saturday, he was more impressive than Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Answer Lively. . . .

Look for the Breeders' Cup to return to Santa Anita in 2000. . . .

New York's famed Carnegie Deli named a sandwich for Venus Williams, then made the mistake of inviting her to come eat it. . . .

She politely nibbled on the sandwich-- turkey, roast beef, cheese, lettuce, tomato and peppers--before ordering Jell-O.

*

While wondering if Mel Rojas would allow Johnson to manage his rotisserie team, I was thinking: Florida State might have been the nation's best team before the injury to Chris Weinke, the Chargers could not have bungled the Ryan Leaf situation any worse, the Carnegie Deli should have named a turkey sandwich for Irina Spirlea.

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