OK, Celtics' Bird can be hot, but burning?


Reading time, two minutes: Yeah, I know Larry Bird has a bum back. But can you really compare his suiting up for a playoff game with Joan of Arc, as NBC did yesterday?

* Going into their Game 7 Armageddon for the Adams Division title tonight, the Montreal Canadiens hold a 5-0 edge over the Boston Bruins in showdowns during the last 11 seasons. All of them were at the Montreal Forum, however, and things figure to be different at the Gah-den where the Broons are 30-11 this season.

* An absolutely sensational cast of tumblers is lined up for the first World Pro Gymnastics Championships at the Patriot Center May 11, and Brandy Johnson admits, "It's the new concept that is keeping so many of us in the sport."

Johnson and the rest of the women -- such standouts as Elena Shushunova, Daniela Silivas, Aurelia Dobre -- will select three of four apparatus on which to compete while the men -- Tim Daggett, Scott Johnson, Vladimir Artemov, Tong Fei and Dmitri Bilozerchev, etc. -- chose four of six.

Brandy, fifth in the World Cup last fall before retiring, decided to come back, she says, "Because I no longer have to spend eight hours a day in the gym. I'm living at home, taking a couple of courses in college and loving every minute of living a normal life."

* Actually, it would be in the best interests of the heavyweight division if George Foreman stuck around for a while and champion Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson got involved in a series of bouts. The weekend of the Holyfield-Foreman fight, up-and-coming heavies Riddick Bowe, Tommy Morrison and Bruce Seldon weren't impressive or lost. Those three, along with Ray Mercer, Alex Stewart, Lennox Lewis and Michael Moorer, are in need of additional seasoning.

* Wow, didn't coach George Chaump lay it on fullback Kwame Moultrie a little heavy for quitting the Navy football team? It is possible for a guy to lose interest in the sport without the coach suggesting he has no heart.

* The Bud Light Triathlon Series gets under way in New Orleans a week from Saturday and heading the entry list is Mike Pigg, who scooped up the World Cup championship in Australia yesterday with a 90-second victory over Mark Allen. Keren Smyers made it a sweep for the Americans. Pigg, a past winner, figures as the favorite in the Baltimore Triathlon June 23.

* Even with a crummy start, Matt Biondi beat Mark Spitz by two full seconds in a 50-meter butterfly race, and maybe it's time TV pulled the plug on the former Olympic champion's ill-fated comeback. Clairol has been picking up the tab and darned if Spitz didn't cover up his suddenly jet-black locks with a bathing cap Saturday. Maybe Mark should start throwing a baseball around.

* The late Laz Barrera always said right up there with training Triple Crown winner Affirmed was the afternoon he saddled seven straight winners at Santa Anita.

* A one-troy ounce silver coin commemorating the career of Brooks Robinson is available by calling 1-800-765-0123. An outfit called Chicagoland Processing markets the limited edition coins citing individuals and championships teams.

* You have to wonder when Missy Marlowe is going to catch a break. She was the Salt Lake City gal who battled her way onto the 1988 Olympic women's gymnastics team, but, not being a protege of Bela Karolyi, she was sort of an outcast on the team.

Now, three years later, she wins an NCAA championship on the balance beam and, because of a scoring error, she has to share the title. The NCAA was made aware of the error and, on National Sportsmanship Day, decreed the tie official.

* The Kemper Open at Avenel in Potomac is still a month away from being contested (May 27-June 2) and already it has earmarked $175,000 for 22 area charities. Since 1980, the tourney has distributed $1,475,000 to organizations in need.

* Isn't it ironic that the Washington Bullets, who have been nauseatingly mediocre for so long, turned in the worst regular-season record ever for an NBA champion. Yep, the 1978 team was just six games over .500 (44-38) when it caught lightning in a bottle and went all the way. Conversely, Los Angeles was 56 over .500 (69-13) when it went all the way in 1972.

Speaking of the NBA playoffs, it was on this date in 1970 that Jerry West unloaded a 60-footer at the buzzer to force overtime against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

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