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THE INSIDE TRACK | MORNING BRIEFING

Consistency Name of Game in Salt Lake City

February 06, 2001|MAL FLORENCE

Bob Ryan in the Boston Globe: "In a sports world gone financially and behaviorally mad, the Jazz are the oasis of true sanity. The coach never leaves. The two marquee players never retire. The team never stops winning.

"Go ahead. Peruse the NBA standings. Check out the Midwest Division. At the top of the list you will find the solid, reliable, unshakable Utah Jazz, led by their solid, reliable, unshakable coach, Jerry Sloan. . . .

"The NBA cognoscenti talk about this guy or that guy being a great coach and they very seldom mention the name of Jerry Sloan. Why? Is it because he doesn't wear Armanis or put his name on cheesy motivational books? It surely isn't because he doesn't win.

"You may be surprised to learn that in the 10 full seasons he has coached the Jazz, his teams have averaged 56 wins a year and have three times won 60 or more."

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Trivia time: Which team holds the NBA record for fewest points in the first quarter of a game?

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Misery loves company: Phil Mickelson, on the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, in an interview with Art Spander of the Oakland Tribune:

"This tournament is very important to the game of golf. The fans and spectators have an opportunity to see some musicians, some actors, some major CEOs, people they respect and admire, be humbled by this game. See that they play it no better than themselves. It's very humanizing."

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Couch case: Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the unpredictable UCLA basketball team:

"To find a context for [Saturday's] win--and from the Stanford perspective, for the loss--is a waste of time, effort and coffee.

"The Bruins did what suits them best, both on and off the court--to look their best immediately after looking their worst [29-point loss to California], while providing no apparent reason for either circumstance."

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Clean guy: Baltimore Raven defensive tackle Tony Siragusa appeared with David Letterman and said of a fellow guest, actor Keanu Reeves:

"He looks scraggly. He looks like some of the people waiting outside to get in. I felt bad. I actually showered to come on your show."

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Different breed: Steve Rushin in Sports Illustrated: "Every February, Madison Square Garden is overrun with expensive dogs of every description. But then the Rangers are forced to vacate and in comes the Westminster Kennel Club."

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Why not? From comedy writer Jerry Perisho: "In the new XFL, to determine which side gets possession of the football, two opponents sprint to midfield and fight for the football. It's the same method Florida will use from now on to determine who wins presidential electoral votes."

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Trivia answer: The Sacramento Kings, four, against the Lakers on Feb. 4, 1987.

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And finally: M.L. Carr, former Boston Celtic vice president, recalled working out Kobe Bryant after the then-high school star had declared for the NBA draft. He told the Boston Globe he was impressed with the workout but decided to go with former Kentucky star Antoine Walker instead.

"And if I had to do it all over again, I'd do the same thing. No question about it."

For that, the Lakers thank you, M.L.

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