Saturday, March 1, 2003

As The Sports World Turns

Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat and Chronicle

As The Sports World Turns: Michael Jordan fittingly is capping a magnificent career by enjoying the finest NBA season ever by a 40-year-old player. He entered this weekend averaging 19.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 36.1 minutes per game and was one of only three Washington Wizards to play in all 57 games. He clearly is the MVP of a young team fighting for a playoff berth.

In a poll of 15 NBA general managers for The Sporting News this week, Jordan was ranked the 16th best player in the league.

This is how other distinguished NBA elder statesmen fared in their final seasons:

• Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Averaged 10.1 points and 4.5 rebounds at age 42 for the 1988-89 Los Angeles Lakers. He averaged 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds at age 40.

• Wilt Chamberlain: Averaged 13.2 points and 18.6 rebounds for the 1972-73 Los Angeles Lakers at age 36.

• Julius Erving: Averaged 16.8 points and 4.4 rebounds for the 1986-87 Philadelphia 76ers at age 37.

• John Havlicek: Averaged 16.1 points for the 1977-78 Boston Celtics at age 38.

• Elvin Hayes: Averaged 5.0 points and 3.2 rebounds for the 1983-84 Houston Rockets at age 39.

• Magic Johnson: Averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds and 6.9 assists for the 1995-96 Los Angeles Lakers at age 37 (in 32 games after sitting out four seasons).

• Bob Lanier: Averaged 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds for the 1983-84 Milwaukee Bucks at age 36.

• Moses Malone: Averaged 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 17 games for the 1994-95 San Antonio Spurs at age 40.

• Earl Monroe: Averaged 7.4 points for the 1979-80 New York Knicks at age 36.

• Oscar Robertson: Averaged 15.5 points for the 1972-73 Milwaukee Bucks at age 35.

• Bill Russell: Averaged 9.9 points and 19.3 rebounds for the 1968-69 Boston Celtics at age 35.

• Isiah Thomas: Averaged 14.8 points for the 1993-94 Detroit Pistons at age 37.

• Jerry West: Averaged 20.3 points in 31 games for the 1973-74 Los Angeles Lakers at age 35.


• All due respect to TNT analyst Jeff Van Gundy, but the former New York Knicks coach might have been a bit biased this week when he said Patrick Ewing was "hands down and unquestionably the all-time greatest Knick." Ewing ranks a close No. 2 on my list behind fellow center Willis Reed, who was a better clutch player.

• Attempts to boost scoring in the NBA aren't working. Only three of the league's 29 teams are averaging at least 100 points this season (Dallas, Golden State and Sacramento). Ten years ago, 25 out of 27 teams averaged triple figures. Twenty years ago, 20 of 23 teams did. Thirty years ago, all 17 teams did.

• Golf inflation note: Jeff Sluman, winner of one golf major in two decades as a touring pro, entered this weekend ranked 16th on the official career money list at $13,094,915. He has won more money on the PGA Tour than Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Lee Trevino combined ($12,897,568). They won a total of 39 majors.

• This week's Four-Star Trivia question: Assuming Rickey Henderson is retired, what active baseball player leads the majors in stolen bases?

• The NFL competition committee reportedly is considering a rule to prohibit unnecessary career-threatening cheap shot hits away from the play on returns. That's a great idea in spirit, but assuming penalties could be called on such plays, it would be another headache for the beleaguered zebras in deciding whether or not to throw a flag.

• This week's Four-Star Trivia answer: Barry Bonds leads active major leaguers with 493 stolen bases.

• will conduct a poll for "Hottest Female Athlete of 2003" between tennis player Anna Kournikova and softball pitcher Jennie Finch. My scouting report says Anna's losing streak will continue.

• Thumbs down to Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, a member of the baseball Hall of Fame veterans' committee, who left all 10 available spots on his ballot blank because he didn't think any of the candidates deserved to be elected to Cooperstown. Not every candidate can be as qualified as Schmidt, but bypassing everyone else suggests he didn't do enough homework or didn't want to be bothered.

• The NHL, ABC and ESPN might not want to see it, but an All-Canadian Stanley Cup (Vancouver vs. Ottawa appears most likely) would make more Canadians very happy than it would make U.S. sports fans sad.

Bengals land free agent DE Powell
Neal's gone, and Spikes could be
Titans interested in free-agent corner
It's Parcells and Glenn again - this time with Cowboys

Reds ticket sale brisk
Reds look to the fans to get them to payoff
So far, so good: Griffey looking like his old self
Daugherty: Clubhouse gags
Injury will push back Wilson's debut 7-10 days
Yankees amused by Wells' book
New pitches could extend Leiter's career
Q&A with The Kid

Beating UC next step for Calipari's Tigers
Muskies come home, face struggling G.W.
Xavier Q&A
BG offers opportunity for streaking Miami
Enquirer Tipoff page
Catching up with John Loyer
Five Questions with Saint Joseph's mascot Steve Klarich
Big 10: Underdogs?
NCAA mulls war contingencies
Harrick Jr. suspended after allegations
Louisville's Stone still eligible, attorney said
UC women roll over Memphis

Miami hires defensive coordinator

Panthers pounce on No. 1 Tigers
Crusaders' win streak reaches 13
Friday's Ohio games
Friday's Kentucky games
James unstoppable in sectional game
Hamilton track star becomes AD at Fairfield
CovCath, Scott strong in qualifying
Five locals advance to final round
Prep hoops tourney schedules

Big foe for Jones, big risk for Ruiz
Boxing proving cathartic for Harding

Woods rolls to Match Play quarters

Champali heads field for Turfway's Battaglia
Congaree heavy favorite in Santa Anita Handicap

Ducks slay Monsters

As The Sports World Turns

This weekend's sports on TV, radio