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Being in the swim for magazine suits Mystics' McCray just fine


If it's the middle of the winter, then it must be time for the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, which hits newsstands this week.

The magazine began the rollout of the copy that sells more than any other single issue each year with last night's Internet unveiling of the supermodel who will grace the cover, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos.

And with the publication of the issue is sure to come the annual debate about whether SI is playing the role of sexual objectifier by displaying pictures of scantily clad women.

Mark Nikki McCray in the "no" category. McCray, a star forward for the WNBA's Washington Mystics, will appear in the issue as part of a section with famous athletes and their spouses.

"This is a great issue for them [SI]. It's a couples issue, so it's not like I'm naked or anything," said McCray. "I have a swimsuit on and it's really casual. The pictures that were taken really capture my personality. It's not that [objectifying] at all."

McCray, 26, and her fiance, Thomas Penson, were whisked to Necker Island, a secluded, privately owned parcel in the British Virgin Islands, a couple of months ago along with other celebrity couples, including former San Francisco quarterback Joe Montana and his wife, Jennifer; golfer Annika Sorenstam and her husband, David Esch; Phoenix Suns forward Tom Gugliotta and his wife, Niki; and Anaheim Angels pitcher Chuck Finley and his wife, Tawny Kitaen.

Of greater concern to McCray, the Mystics' leading scorer last season, than whether she was presented as a sexual object was how she was going to look in the photos. After all, the camera doesn't lie.

"You're showing your body and you want to make sure you're in good shape," said McCray. "Being in front of the camera and smiling and all that, you have to be a professional to do that and I'm not comfortable with all that. I hope everybody likes the pictures. I know I did."

Still love this game?

Apparently all that talk about fan indifference over the return of the NBA was just that -- talk -- at least according to the ratings.

NBC is reporting that its Sunday doubleheader did a 5.8 national rating and 13 share, which won the day among all other afternoon sports telecasts and was up significantly from last year's average of 4.6/12.

While we're on the subject of the NBA, there are a few nits to be picked with TNT's package from Friday night. It was most disappointing not to see a constant score and clock box on the screen. The Turner folks used to use one for NFL games; basketball fans deserve constant updates, as well.

More troubling was the insistence, during the Houston-Lakers game, of going with tight camera shots of Charles Barkley as he cursed out Los Angeles fans, not once but at least twice. Barkley's profane display was so visible that even the worst lip reader could tell what he was saying, yet the cameras stayed trained on him.

That Barkley, who was fined $5,000 yesterday by the league, has little personal restraint has been obvious for some time. TNT should have had enough restraint for both of them.

A never-ending season

Just when you thought (maybe even hoped?) that we had heard the last of football for a while, comes today's ESPN2 coverage of the expansion draft that will help stock the new Cleveland Browns.

We probably don't need to tell you why there's a need to stock the Browns or why there even are new Browns, but host Mike Tirico, analysts Ron Jaworski and John Clayton, along with two special guests -- former Kansas City coach Marty Schottenheimer and current Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher -- will be around to fill in the blanks.

The festivities begin at 4 p.m.

Also, if you're awake in the early morning Wednesday and you need an ironic laugh, tune in to "Al Davis: Legend-Maverick," a documentary on the life and works of the eccentric Oakland Raiders owner.

What's ironic about the 30-minute film (ESPN, 2 a.m.) is that it's produced by NFL Films, the propaganda arm of the league, which, given Davis' penchant for tweaking the NFL's nose, is the equivalent of having special counsel Kenneth Starr write a complimentary biography of President Clinton.

Finally, wouldn't it be nice to have the kind of job security that ABC's Al Michaels apparently has? During the end of Sunday's Pro Bowl telecast, as he was saying goodbye to Dan Dierdorf, Michaels, in reply to Dierdorf's musing that his removal from "Monday Night Football" was "part of the business," said, "Yeah, a lousy part of it."

It was refreshing to hear a network announcer take a side on something that sensitive. The stance may not do much for Michaels' long-term sense of permanence at ABC, but it surely should boost his credibility with the public.

Pub Date: 2/09/99

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