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January 17, 2006

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MORNING BRIEFING

Sports Are Loved for a Number of Reasons

By Larry Stewart, Times Staff Writer

Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Steve Garvey and Luc Robitaille were among dozens of Los Angeles sports celebrities at the L.A. Sports Fans' Choice Awards banquet Sunday night at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Sportswriter Sam Adams of the Rocky Mountain News, also a stand-up comic, did one of his routines at the benefit for the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. Adams, noting sports fans' obsession with numbers, mentioned:

  "33 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's number and the number of games in a row the Lakers won during their championship season of 1971-72."

  "715 Hank Aaron's home run that broke Babe Ruth's record."

  "Seven the number of times Luc Robitaille has come back to the Kings."

Actually, it only seems like seven times. Robitaille, now in his 19th NHL season, has left and returned to the Kings twice.

Trivia time: Where did the Carolina Panthers' Steve Smith go to high school, junior college and college?

There for all to see: "Rex Grossman's goal," wrote Mike Downey in the Chicago Tribune, "is to become the 'the best quarterback in the league.'

"But right now he is not not even one of the best, not even close. I know it, you know it, the Bears know it. And now, I am sincerely sad to report, America knows it."

Room for improvement: Here's a new way for a coach to dress down his players.

Randy Monroe, the men's basketball coach at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, was so upset after his team lost to New Hampshire, 75-58, last week that he banned the players from using their team locker room and forbade the wearing of apparel bearing the school's name.

For a game against Hartford on Sunday, the team dressed in a media workroom and also held its halftime meeting there.

The ploy worked for a while. Maryland Baltimore County led Hartford, 25-11, in the first half but lost, 74-73, to fall to 6-9 overall.

Another coach's ploy: The New York Knicks are 13-23, but they were 7-21 on Jan. 1. According to Newsday, Larry Brown, wanting to accentuate the positive, told his players: "We're now bowl-eligible. We've won seven games."

Looking back: On this day in 1995, the Rams announced that they were leaving Southern California after 49 years and moving to St. Louis.

Trivia answer: Smith attended Los Angeles' University High, Santa Monica City College, where he was a teammate of the Cincinnati Bengals' Chad Johnson, and the University of Utah.

And finally: Times motorsports writer Shav Glick, on his final day at the newspaper, offered one last Morning Briefing item.

According to Glick, here's something to keep in mind during these times of high gas prices: A top-fuel dragster, counting the burnout, backup to the starting line and quarter-mile run, uses 10 to 12 gallons of fuel for one complete pass.

*

Larry Stewart can be reached at larry.stewart@latimes.com.




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