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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

When It Comes to a Hoax, Croce May Have It Down Pat

March 30, 2000|RANDY HARVEY

Philadelphia media were victims last week of a very clever hoax.

The 76ers called a news conference to announce a contract extension for Coach Larry Brown.

Someone who looked and sounded very much like Brown said he hoped to end his career with the team.

"I want to see my kids grow up here and I hope that I will be connected with the team for a long time," he said.

That was the quote that revealed the hoax. Brown's kids are 3 and 5. Considering he has had nine coaching jobs in the last 27 years, and that he has already been with the 76ers for three seasons, it will be a surprise if he is still with them when his kids are 4 and 6.

Then again, no one has come forward to confess that the news conference was an elaborate joke played by wacky 76er owner Pat Croce. So maybe it was real. If Warren Beatty can get married, I suppose it's possible Brown could settle down with one team.

The man certainly seemed convincing when he said, "I didn't even know what an extension meant. I don't even think it was in my vocabulary."

If it's true that he's remaining in Philadelphia, the moving company that counted on him for income every few years will be disappointed.

So will Clipper fans, who were holding out hope that he might return to save the franchise. With a 64-53 record in the 1992 and '93 seasons, he's the only winning coach in Clipper history.

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You had to love the quote in the paper Wednesday morning from the newest Clipper, Etdrick Bohannon, who played 20 games this season with the Knicks. . . .

"They really liked me," he said. "They offered to keep me, but . . . the situation is better [with the Clippers]." . . .

Sure it is, the men in the white coats were telling Bohannon when they carted him away. . . .

Also newly arrived in Southern California from a distant planet is Angel pitcher Kent Bottenfield, who said, "I'm excited about the opportunity. I've heard nothing but great things from guys who play here and guys who have played here. I've been told there's an upbeat attitude in the clubhouse." . . .

My guess is is that he didn't hear that from Terry Collins. . . .

Eric Young walked Wednesday, stole second and scored on a single for the first run of the new season for the Cubs in their victory over the Mets. . . .

The Dodgers sure could use a leadoff hitter like that. . . .

The NCAA's Stay in School campaign is getting a boost from players who stayed in school. . . .

Texas' Ricky Williams in 1998 and Wisconsin's Ron Dayne in '99 chose to play their senior years instead of making themselves eligible for the NFL draft and won Heisman trophies. . . .

Richard Hamilton played as a senior for Connecticut last season, won a national championship and was voted the most outstanding player in the NCAA tournament. If all goes as expected Saturday and Monday in Indianapolis, Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves will have followed the same path. . . .

Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin has signed with an L.A. agent, Dan Fegan. . . .

Maybe they can meet when Martin is in town next week to receive the John R. Wooden Award. . . .

He is going to win it, isn't he? . . .

One of the best college track and field meets of the year is scheduled for Saturday at USC when the Trojan men and women meet Louisiana State, North Carolina and Nebraska. . . .

Look for the Cromwell Field pole vault record of 18 feet 1/2 inch to fall to Louisiana State's Ross Buller, Nebraska's Eric Eschbach, North Carolina's Brent Callaway or USC's Dennis Kholev. . . .

The junior-middleweights suddenly are more interesting than the welterweights. Word is that the winner of the April 15 fight between Fernando Vargas and Ike Quartey will meet Felix Trinidad. . . .

Trainer Bobby Frankel certainly took the news well that jockey Corey Nakatani reportedly will ride Anees in the April 8 Santa Anita Derby instead of Frankel's Cocky. . . .

". . . If he's that dumb to take off Cocky to ride another horse, I don't want him on my horses," Frankel told the Daily Racing Form. . . .

"I'm not mad. But I've got 50 or 60 other horses in my barn. Does Thoroughbred Corp. [Anees' owner] have a Chester House or a Public Purse or an Honest Lady?" . . .

No, he's not mad.

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While wondering what the people at Rogaine think of Karl Malone's shaved head, I was thinking: Tiger Woods should play Karrie Webb in the Bighorn Challenge this summer, Eric Lindros gets a concussion and Flyer General Manager Bobby Clarke gets the headache, Japanese fans sure seem to love Samurai Sosa.

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

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