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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Thinking of His Children Was Stopper for Leonard

May 28, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

Some have asked whether Sugar Ray Leonard, considering his substance abuse problems in the '80s, is the right person to counsel at-risk youths about drugs.

So I posed that question Wednesday night to Leonard.

"That makes me more qualified," he said. "When kids see me, they don't see a perfect individual. They see someone who went down that road and pulled back.

"I experienced drugs and realized it was wrong."

Leonard, who received the Roy Firestone Award presented by the Westcoast Sports Associates for his work with the D.A.R.E. program, said he quit cocaine after a discussion with his security chief, James Anderson, of Woodland Hills. Anderson is the father of Atlanta Falcon running back Jamal Anderson.

"He asked if I had considered the ridicule my children would be subjected to if it ever came out that I was a drug addict," Leonard said. "That one question changed my life."

It also made him realize he needed another challenge. After three years in retirement, he returned to the ring in 1987 to upset Marvin Hagler.

"The high I got from beating Hagler was better than anything I ever got from drugs," he said.

*

Maybe Charlie Hough was the problem. . . .

It might have been a long time since the Dodgers had a more popular pitching coach than Hough. But a Fox report by Kevin Kennedy on Wednesday made a convincing case that the mechanics of some of their pitchers, Chan Ho Park, Darren Dreifort and Carlos Perez, had deteriorated. . . .

The Dodgers now have their third bullpen coach since June 21. You think maybe they realize now that Mark Cresse knew what he was doing down there for the previous 22 years? . . .

Sheriff Kevin Malone has made plenty of mistakes. Trading Dave Mlicki wasn't one of them. . . .

After winning his first start for Detroit, he hasn't had another victory in seven starts since. . . .

Eric Karros is the subject of trade rumors. Again. . . .

The latest has Todd Hundley replacing him at first. . . .

Don't believe it until you start seeing Davey Johnson experiment with Hundley there. He has never played first base in the major leagues. . . .

Jay Leno couldn't have done any better as a master of ceremonies than John Wooden did during "An Evening of Inspiration" sponsored by the Los Angeles Sports Academy on Tuesday night at UCLA. . . .

Introducing players from his 1964 team, his first to win an NCAA title, Wooden noted that Gail Goodrich is not exactly at his playing weight. . . .

When Goodrich told him that he's now a golf pro in Greenwich, Conn., Wooden said, "It looks like you need to play more." . . .

The 14th annual Sports Spectacular is scheduled for June 27 at the Century Plaza Hotel. . . .

Among honorees are Wayne Gretzky, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Thomas Hearns and Randall Cunningham. Proceeds benefit the Cedars-Sinai Medical Genetics Birth Defects Center. . . .

Maybe Henry Bibby could draw a play that calls for Jeff Trepagnier to jump over Jerome Moiso and Dan Gadzuric. . . .

Trepagnier, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who made his college track and field debut only a few weeks ago, finished second in the Pacific 10 Conference high jump at 7-0 1/2. . . .

Legendary trainers Charlie Whittingham and Laz Barrera will have stakes races named in their honor Monday at Hollywood Park. . . .

Barrera was the last trainer to win a Triple Crown, with Affirmed in 1978. Unlike Wayne Lukas, who could be the next one after the June 5 Belmont Stakes, Barrera didn't arrive at his barn each morning at 4 a.m. . . .

"I'm a trainer," he once said, "not a night watchman."

*

Jerry West: Dr. Buss, we've got a team of young, potential superstars whose egos are exceeded only by their salaries. Let's turn them over to a coach who never coached a game at any level until three months ago.

Jerry Buss: Great idea, Jerry.

If that's the way it goes down, then let's at least hope the Lakers give Kurt Rambis a long-term contract and vow to resist any temptation to fire him if things aren't going well after 12 games next season.

If Rambis is the man the Jerrys want to coach their team, they should make sure the players know it.

*

While remembering fondly when the Indy 500 was an important sporting event, I was thinking: The Angels can thank their angels that they didn't trade Garret Anderson, I don't want to see one more replay of Tony Saunders breaking his arm, $225 million in public funds for a parking garage--I didn't know Michael Ovitz's sense of humor was that good.

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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