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February 5, 2002

Jim Bainbridge: What a deal: NBA salary shenanigans worth million

Former Colorado Springs resident Joe Kleine had seen a lot of financial goofiness during his 15 years in the NBA, but it wasn't until after he retired from Portland in 2000 that he appreciated the full, staggering depth of it. In August 2000, Kleine got a call from his agent, telling him the Blazers wanted him to unretire so they could trade him and Jermaine O'Neal to Indiana for Dale Davis. They needed Kleine so the salaries would add up right on both sides, and Kleine was told he wouldn't have to play or even set foot in Indiana. Once he signed his name to the deal, he'd collect $1million, the Pacers would waive him, and he'd go on about his business. "I was driving down the highway when I got the call, and I about had a wreck," Kleine told Tom Fitzgerald of the San Francisco Chronicle. "It was like winning the lottery. I was in a little town in Arkansas, and I had to find a place that had a fax machine. I wanted to do it before they changed their minds."

YEAH, LIKE THAT COMES UP A LOT IN NASHVILLE: Dumblaws.com reports that "in Tennessee, it is illegal to shoot any game other than whales from a moving automobile."

APPARENTLY 'LANCE' WAS TOO DIGNIFIED: Boxer Lance Whitaker had his name changed to Goofi - just the one name like Madonna or Prince.

THIS IS CALLED FORESHADOWING, OR FAIR WARNING, WE'RE NOT SURE WHICH: At the back of the Houston Astros' media guide was an ad that said, "Sometimes, it's the things you don't see that have the biggest impact." Yup, it was an Enron ad.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO ORDER A BOATLOAD OF DIP: A delivery mix-up has left organizers for the Salt Lake City Olympics with 27,146 cases of corn chips, not the 584 they ordered. The SLOC isn't being asked to pay for the error, apparently made by supply clerks who dispatched trucks from all over the General Mills system.

SUBSTITUTE THE NAME JOHN ROCKER AND THE JOKE STILL PRETTY MUCH WORKS: Bob Hille of The Sporting News took note that the Texas Rangers are "confident Carl Everett will benefit from starting over in Texas. Yeah, just like Davy Crockett did."

AND HE NO LONGER HEARS MIKE TYSON'S HIGH-PITCHED VOICE: Ninety-one-year-old boxing trainer Charlie Costantino tells Sports Illustrated that the main advantage of being his age is that "there is very little peer pressure."

NOT TO MENTION THOSE FIVE YEARS IN THE PEACE CORPS: George O'Leary bounced back from the Notre Dame scandal to land a job as offensive line coach with the Minnesota Vikings. "No problem pushing O'Leary through," says Bill Scheft of ESPN The Magazine. "(Vikings owner) Red McCombs was impressed with his Nobel Prize for economics and his two terms as Prime Minister of Belgium."

A RECORD UNLIKELY EVER TO BE BROKEN: In all of the prior 18 Winter Olympiads, no one has had a more embarrassing skiing - or any other - competition than Antoin Miliordos of Greece, who, according to the book "Olympics Most Wanted," fell 18 times during the 1952 men's downhill and sat down on the course in the middle of his run. His time was 27 seconds slower than the winner's combined two-run time at Oslo.

BECAUSE OF GUESTS FAILING TO USE COASTERS . . . IT HAS FIVE RINGS ON IT: Former Olympic speedskater Bonnie Blair has found a unique way to display her five gold medals and a bronze, embedding them in a glass-covered coffee table. But Blair says it's no shrine - "It gets dirty. The kids sit on it, stuff spills on it. But it's thick glass, so nothing gets under it."

High & inside

Culled from international news wires, cyberspace and the corner coffee shop. Jim Bainbridge may be reached at bainbird@gazette.com or 636-0126.

Copyright 2002, The Gazette, a Freedom Communications, Inc. Company. All rights reserved. Contact us.