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July 09, 1999|LARRY STEWART

What: "SportsCenter of the Decade, 1970s"

When: Tonight, 4:30-6:30

ESPN is to be congratulated for its massive SportsCentury project. It has been sports television at its best. But, while much of this two-hour special that reviews the '70s is also well done, there is a problem. To give the show a '70s flavor, SportsCenter anchors Stuart Scott and Rich Eisen don wigs and leisure suits. They look ridiculous, which would be OK if the show was all fun and games.

But one of the "cover stories" is the terrorism at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were massacred. Goofy-looking Scott and Eisen are totally out of place.

Producer Mark Shapiro said he and his staff were aware there might be a problem, but thought for the anchors to change outfits would have been too jarring. Simply giving them a more conservative look to begin with might have done the trick.

But if you can get past the wigs, mutton chops and plaid jackets, you'll enjoy the show. Appearing as a guest commentator is Ed Asner, who starred as Lou Grant in the 1970s hit, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

The show opens with the 1970 NBA championship series between the New York Knicks and Lakers, and UCLA's 88-game winning streak in basketball is also included. Shapiro said a choice had to be made between the UCLA streak and the 1971 Nebraska-Oklahoma football game, and UCLA won out.

Tonight at 7:30, Red Grange will be profiled as the 28th greatest athlete of the 20th century. Grange is the fifth football player in the top 50 thus far. Johnny Unitas was No. 32.

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