Ex-trainer reportedly tied to crime figureFormer Denver...

Ex-trainer reportedly tied to crime figure

Former Denver Nuggets trainer Robert "Chopper" Travaglini is being investigated by the National Basketball Association for a possible association with an organized crime figure, the Rocky Mountain News reported yesterday.


Travaglini, 58m who announced his retirement Thursday after 14 years with the Nuggets, was seen with Paul "Fat Paulie" Villano, the newspaper said.

Lt. Ed Hansen, commander of the Denver Police Intelligence Section, confirmed that the two were seen at a restaurant near McNichols Sports Arena about three weeks ago. The paper said that Villano, 62, is a member of the Smaldone crime family and has an extensive gambling record.


Brian McIntyre, an NBA spokesman, would neither confirm nor deny that the league was investigating Travaglini.

"This is awful," Travaglini was quoted as saying. "I never got involved in anything. This is ridiculous. I don't understand why they don't leave me alone. I'm just trying to relax."

Pro football

Houston Oilers offensive tackle Dean Steinkuhler will not start today's game against the Los Angeles Rams and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his elbow tomorrow.

David Williams, the Oilers' 1989 first-round draft pick, will start for Steinkuhler.

* Former Cincinnati Bengals running back Stanley Wilson has been released from custody because authorities did not have the evidence to charge him with robbery, Los Angeles police said. Wilson, who was banned from the National Football League last year for cocaine use, was released Friday, two days after he was arrested in connection with an Oct. 10 purse snatching, Sgt. Dan Pugel said.


Jeff King will be the Pittsburgh Pirates' starting third baseman in 1991, even if utility infielder Wally Backman re-signs with the team, manager Jim Leyland said.


The Pirates allowed Backman to become a free agent when they declined to offer him salary arbitration.

* George Bell says he won't play for the Toronto Blue Jays again if it means becoming the club's full-time designated hitter. And he doesn't mind going elsewhere.

"That's what free agency is for," Bell said from his home in the Dominican Republic. "I know there are a lot of other teams that are interested in me."

Bell, who declined to say what teams had shown an interest in signing him, filed for free agency Wednesday. Pat Gillick, the Blue Jays' vice-president, said the Blue Jays will only try to re-sign Bell if he agrees to become the full-time DH.


Debbie Massey tied the course record with an 8-under-par 64 and took into a three-shot lead after two rounds of the $550,000 Mazda Japan Classic in Hanno, Japan, the final event of the American LPGA Tour season.


Danielle Ammaccapane shot a 67 and Caroline Keggi a 68 to share second place at 136.

* Gary Player shot a second-round 68 to open a one-shot lead on Chi Chi Rodriguez, Orville Moody and Joe Jimenez in the Security Pacific Senior Classic in Los Angeles.

* American Bob Gilder scored 38 points for a one-point lead after the first three rounds of the $538,000 Acom P.T. golf tournament in Ayamacho, Japan. Gilder, after teeing off one point ahead of six others sharing second place, birdied four holes against one double bogey to bring his score for the first three days to 115 under the Stableford scoring system.


Stefan Edberg rolled and Boris Becker squeaked to another confrontation, as both took semifinal victories to move into today's championship at the $2 million Paris Open. Edberg needed less than an hour to beat Sergi Bruguera of Spain, 6-3, 6-3. But Becker had to come from behind to defeat Jonas Svensson of Sweden, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1. Becker's match lasted 2 hours, 15 minutes.

It will be the 27th meeting between Edberg and Becker. Becker holds a 17-9 lead and has beaten Edberg in straight sets twice over the past month, but lost at Wimbledon.


*Second-seeded Monica Seles defeated Zina Garrison, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2, to move into the final of the Virginia Slims of California in Oakland. She will face the winner of the Martina Navratilova-Meredith McGrath semifinal, played late last night. Brazil's Ayrton Senna held onto the pole for the Australian Grand Prix, as McLaren-Honda teammate Gerhard Berger joined him on the front row after yesterday's final qualifying session.

Senna set a course record Friday, and the time held up under all-out assaults by Berger and Britain's Nigel Mansell on the 2.348-mile street course just outside Adelaide's downtown area.

Ferrari teammates Mansell, who has yet to finish a race in ZTC Adelaide, and Alain Prost of France will make up the second row today in the 26-car field.

College football

Stephen F. Austin State must forfeit its status as runner-up to Division I-AA football champion Georgia Southern, Southland Conference officials announced. The school also must reduce its football scholarships by five for the 1991 season.

The penalties were assessed in a special meeting held Oct. 30 by a conference compliance committee. The violations were related to National Collegiate Athletic Association rules violations committed mainly within the Lumberjacks' football program.



* Two men died and scores were wounded in clashes between police and soccer fans angry over their team's performance in Egypt's main soccer league, officials and witnesses in Ismailiya said. Witnesses said police fired into the crowd and used tear gas against rampaging fans after Friday night's match between league-leading Ismailiya and Mahala ended in a 0-0 draw.