In this the 50th anniversary of the NBA, the past week has been marked with notable milestones: Joe Dumars played in his 30,000th minute, Mark Price scored his 10,000th point, Dennis Rodman grabbed his 10,000th rebound and Michael Jordan moved into eighth place on the all-time scoring list (25,627).
But the biggest highlight came Saturday, when New Jersey Nets center Yinka "Stinka" Dare recorded his first career assist.
It took until his third season, and came in his 769th career minute. But Dare, with 48 seconds remaining in the game, passed the ball from the post to Lloyd Daniels, who hit a three-point shot.
"What can I say?" the ever-so-modest Dare said. "I passed it out. He shot."
What's amazing is that the game was not stopped and that Dare was not given the game ball.
And if you think it was all a fluke (the game was pretty much over after the Toronto Raptors scored 48 points in the first quarter), Dare recorded another assist on Wednesday.
Jokes are flying in New Jersey. The best two: Jay Leno and David Letterman are fighting over who will have Dare as a guest on their shows first, and the Classic Sports Network has asked to show tapes of the two games.
Shaq vs. Zo: No love lost
For fans, the biggest negative of Shaquille O'Neal's departure for Los Angeles is that he faces Alonzo Mourning only twice a season.
Since they entered the league, they've had a pretty strong dislike for each other. And that dislike had made for the most fierce, competitive matchup that you will see in basketball.
They met for the first time this season last Friday. O'Neal finished with 34 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Mourning had 31 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. And before and after the game, neither could find a good word to say about the other.
When asked how Mourning got a seven-year, $105 million contract, O'Neal answered: "He must have had a good agent.
"I don't talk money, but I know if Alonzo Mourning got $105 million or whatever, than I'm supposed to get a lot more. If a Beamer [BMW] costs $32,000, then a Benz costs $39,000."
O'Neal said he is offended that Mourning considers him just a dunker.
"I know what he says about my game," O'Neal said. "But if I can get the dunk as the first move, so be it. That's all I need. That's my game. That's who I am."
Mourning said that, even though the two were teammates on Dream Team II, they never developed a friendship.
"I don't even talk to the man," Mourning said. "We don't even have a relationship. How can you have a relationship when you don't even talk?"
The two link up again on March 21 in Miami.
When Cleveland Cavaliers television announcer Michael Reghi made plans to travel to Cincinnati and later to Detroit last week, it was to do a feature on two University of Cincinnati players and then to see his mother, who was having cataract surgery.
Larry Riley, director of player personnel of the Vancouver Grizzlies, had planned to fly from Cincinnati to Detroit to scout a college basketball game.
Neither made the flight, which is why both are alive today. The Comair commuter flight crashed outside of Detroit last Thursday, killing all 29 people aboard.
Reghi's travel plans changed when the Bearcats altered their practice time on Thursday, which led him to cancel his plans.
Riley had his boarding pass in hand, and walked to the departure gate. But he changed his mind, walked back to the ticket counter and asked if, instead, he could change his ticket and fly home. There was a flight leaving for Seattle, and Riley took it.
"Something just told me to go home," Riley said. "In nine years, I've never not attempted to get to a game that I thought I could get to."
Riley found out about the crash right after getting off the plane in Seattle, when he turned his cellular phone on. It rang immediately, with a call from general manager Stu Jackson, who thought Riley was on the flight.
"God gave me a second chance," Riley said.
Around the league
The Boston Celtics have won three of their past five games, and the players are implying that it's no coincidence the team is playing better without forward Dino Radja (knee surgery).
"We don't get the ball to certain people every time downcourt," Todd Day said. "Everybody's freer."
When Washington Bullets guard Rod Strickland got a call from league vice president Rod Thorn, he thought it might be to fine him for remarks he made on Tuesday criticizing officials. Instead, the league warned him about wearing his shorts -- which hang below the knees -- too long.
Nike's claim to having the entire Chicago Bulls team wearing the trademark swoosh ended last week, when Dennis Rodman signed a $2.5 million-a-year deal with Converse. No word yet from Converse whether they will include pink in the line of Chuck Taylor shoes that Rodman will wear.
Jerry Bembry can be reached via e-mail at Jeryol.com.
Pub Date: 1/17/97