Larry Bird finally broke his silence about his friend and rival Magic Johnson. And, at the same time, Bird opened up about the emotions he felt when his father died. "These have been the two toughest days for me since my father died. I've been sort of out of it. I can't believe what happened. He's a friend and he's a competitor," Bird said Friday night about Johnson, who announced Thursday he was retiring because he had contracted the virus that causes AIDS.
Bird had been silent about Johnson before the Celtics' Friday night game. He made the comments after his team's loss to the Atlanta Hawks, 100-95.
"It's always been hard for me to talk about my father. But I've found that time heals the wounds," said Bird, whose career has been closely connected with Johnson's since the two led their teams into the 1979 NCAA championship game. Johnson's Michigan State team beat Bird's Indiana State club, 75-64.
Ernie Harwell, the Hall of Fame announcer who was let go by the Detroit Tigers at the end of the season, said he wants to join the New York Yankees announcing team. "There are a lot of options which I'm looking at, but obviously the Yankees, with all their tradition, would be a wonderful situation for me," Harwell said. The Yankees have a radio position opened by the departure of Joe Angel for WBAL Radio's Baltimore Orioles broadcasts.
Midori Ito of Japan beat world champion Kristi Yamaguchi of the United States for the women's singles title at the Lalique Trophy in Albertville, France.
Ito, the 1989 world champion, won Saturday's final free skating to move past Yamaguchi in the warmup for the Winter Olympics. Yamaguchi led after Friday's free program, which counted for one-third of the score.
Ito received a perfect 6.0 for technical merit from one of the nine judges when she did her program that included a very difficult triple axel-double toe loop combination. Her other marks were in the 5.7-5.9 range.
Minnesota Vikings running back Darrin Nelson plans to retire at the end of the season. Nelson, in his 11th season, will take a few Vikings records with him into retirement. He's compiled 9,196 net yards on rushes, receptions and returns and needs only 41 more yards to surpass Vikings record holder Bill Brown, who had 9,237.
Nelson, who returns kickoff and plays occasionally in the backfield, could break the record tomorrow night against the Bears.
* Hardy Brown, known as one of the most fearsome hitters in the history of professional football during his five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, died Friday. He was 62.
Bradley University officials said the school has declined an invitation to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference and will remain in the Missouri Valley Conference. Friday's decision ended months of discussions about the possibility of Bradley leaving the MVC. The MCC has lost Marquette and St. Louis,
which joined the new Great Midwest Conference.
The 34-foot yacht skippered by American John Kostecki won two of three races to qualify for the finals of the Nippon Cup International Yacht Match Race near Zushi, Japan. Kostecki will face a vessel captained by Peter Gilmour of Australia for the championship today in Sagami Bay.