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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Floating, but Not Like a Butterfly

March 14, 2000|GRAHAME L. JONES

Is Staples Center ready for a flying carpet?

That's how Britain's world featherweight champion "Prince" Naseem Hamed made his entrance at London's Olympia arena last weekend--suspended 10 feet above the ring on a leopard-skin-draped crate that was intended to represent a magic carpet.

Turns out it wasn't the only crate the World Boxing Organization titleholder would send to the canvas.

His challenger, Vuyani "the Beast" Bungu of South Africa, tried a little psychology of his own. His ring men wore Xhosa tribal attire.

It didn't help. Hamed stopped Bungu with a straight left in the fourth round.

Hamed is looking at Mexican fighters Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera as future opponents. According to England's Daily Telegraph, a bout with one of them could take place at Staples Center in November.

Better nail down the red carpet.

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Trivia time: Which player owns the first-, fourth-, fifth-, ninth- and 12th-best single-game scoring performances in NCAA tournament history?

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Potboilers: "Man was fighting the aging process long before Ponce de Leon thought he found a liquid solution," wrote the San Diego Union Tribune's Nick Canape.

In other words, Dan Marino did the right thing.

"I am among those unfortunates who saw Willie Mays play center field too long," Canape wrote. "I saw Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali deteriorate before my eyes. The greatest at what they did--and how they did it, with unmatched flair!--spent too many hours boiling in Father Time's pot, eventually reduced to mere mortals."

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One hump or two? There are things you simply can't do on the PGA Tour that are quite possible elsewhere.

Take, for instance, Rolf Muntz's victory this week in the Qatar Masters, which made him the first Dutchman to win on the PGA European Tour.

According to one account, the golfer's girlfriend, Vanessa, spent the week visiting the silk souks, the date markets and the camel sales.

Yes, the camel sales.

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Rye remark: Stanford's being seeded No. 1 in the South Regional of the NCAA tournament recalls something former Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson once said when the Cardinal was seeded much lower.

"If Stanford is a No. 12 seed, then I'm a left-handed ham sandwich," he said.

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Now you know: Bud Geracie of the San Jose Mercury News points out that the Yankees have been in first place for all but 38 days over the last two seasons.

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No ifs, ands or butts: Gregg Winik, NBA Entertainment's executive vice president of programming and executive producer, says fears about the introduction of cameras to NBA locker rooms are unjustified.

"We don't want to see Antonio Davis' bare butt on TV," he explained.

We should all be grateful.

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Fast company: The appearance of Julie Krone's name on the ballot as a candidate for induction into the National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame has struck a chord with Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger.

"As a jockey, she had been thoroughbred racing's premier gender buster," he wrote. "Every racetrack tout and lout, hustler and rustler, railbird and backstretch rambler paid serious attention to whatever horse she was going to ride. She was the queen of the merry-go-round."

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Trivia answer: Former Notre Dame standout Austin Carr.

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And finally: When Bulgarian soccer club Neftochimik Bourgas recently faced a severe financial crisis, team President Hristo Portochanov found a dramatic solution.

He took out an ad in a Sofia newspaper, putting every player up for sale at season's end.

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