Morning Briefing : Wrestling Reruns-- Fate Worse Than . . .

Someone was watching professional wrestling on the TV in The Times sports department when it occurred to him he had seen it before.

"Hey, how come they're showing reruns?" he asked.

"Haven't you heard?" said a staffer. "There's a writers' strike."

Wayne Gretzky, the most recognizable sports figure in Canada, told Christine Brennan of the Washington Post that he leads two lives.

"In one life, in Canada, I am known," he said. "People do recognize me. Then I can go a lot of places where no one really cares. Like anywhere south of Chicago."

Once, someone thought they recognized him in Arizona. "Are you Bjorn Borg?" he was asked.

On its last invasion of the Northwest, USC played Oregon State, then flew home before returning for a series with the Washington teams.

Asked why the Trojans didn't stay over, Coach Stan Morrison said: "All my assistants are in the Frequent Flyer program and they wanted to get enough mileage for a free trip to Hawaii."

Denver Nuggets Coach Doug Moe, a former ABA player, on Larry Bird: "He and I have a lot in common. We both shoved and pushed a lot. The difference is after I pushed and shoved, I couldn't do anything."

Add Bird: When somebody asked him in an airport why M.L. Carr was limping, he said: "His foot probably fell asleep from all that sitting he does on the bench."

According to the New York Times, hanging on a wall in the office of St. John's Coach Lou Carnesecca is a Peanuts cartoon with a sad-faced Snoopy.

The caption reads: "It doesn't matter if you win or lose . . . until you lose."

Add Carnesecca: Asked about the coach's diet, a former St. John's trainer was quoted as saying, "Lou always had two rules for eating. You never have clams west of the East River, and you never have Italian food west of Jersey City."

In a story on Maryland Coach Lefty Driesell, Ken Denlinger of the Washington Post wrote: "True or not, league gossip has the Left-hander once changing the light bulbs in the tunnel through which North Carolina passed from its dressing room to the floor in Cole Field House. He reasoned that the contrast, from near-overwhelming glare, would affect the Tar Heels' shooting."

From Sam Goldaper of the New York Times: "Four of the top 10 players in the NBA in steals are from Chicago-area high schools--Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons (St. Joseph's), Glenn Ribers, Atlanta Hawks (Proviso East), Darrell Walker, New York Knicks (Corliss) and Maurice Cheeks, Philadelphia 76ers (DuSable)."

Explained Walker: "It takes anticipation to make a steal. You needed all the anticipation you could get growing up on the streets of Chicago."

He weighed only 170 1/2 for his last fight, but light-heavyweight champion Michael Spinks is talking about challenging Larry Holmes for the heavyweight title.

"Michael weighed 210 six weeks ago," promoter Butch Lewis said. "He stands 6-2 1/2, so there would be no bloating him just to make weight."

Said Spinks: "I'll put on some more armor. You'll see muscle busting out everywhere, but I'll be nice and loose."

Said trainer Eddie Futch: "When Ezzard Charles was heavyweight champion, he was no more than a light-heavyweight. If Ezzard Charles can do it, why not Michael?"


Tom Heinsohn, after looking at a design of a life-size statue of Red Auerbach: "It's all fine, except it's out of proportion. The head's not big enough."

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