When Strom Talks, Basketball Fans Are Liable to Lose Seats

National Basketball Assn. referee Earl Strom often is a show in himself. Last week in Seattle, he even had a fan ejected from press row, thinking the man was a reporter.

The SuperSonics allow paying customers to sit at empty seats on press row, and Strom, known as a road team's best friend, was getting a tongue lashing from a Seattle fan sitting at courtside.

Strom, thinking it had to be a member of the press, ordered the objector to the exit. Told that it was a fan, Strom said, "I don't care who it is, I want him outta here."

The fan was moved to the end zone seats.

Add Strom: Denver Nuggets Coach Doug Moe tells this one about their days in the American Basketball Assn.: "We're playing in Hampton, Va., and there are about 40 people in the crowd. I'm getting ready for the opening jump, and Earl gives me the elbow, motions to the stands, and says, 'Doug, check out that woman walking.' I said to him, 'Geez, Earl, that's my wife.' "

Trivia time: John Stockton of the Utah Jazz had a National Basketball Assn. season-high 19 assists Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings. What is the record for assists in a game? (Answer below).

Don Mattingly said he doesn't appreciate owner George Steinbrenner's sniping at the New York Yankees in the press, but he agrees with Steinbrenner on one point.

"If you come in second place and you've won 97 games, you haven't done anything," Mattingly said. "If you don't win (the division title), it's not enough. (Steinbrenner will) go out and get players he thinks he needs to win."

After meeting Danny Ainge's sister, Boston Celtics broadcaster Gil Santos told Ainge: "She looks exactly like you, but she doesn't shoot three-pointers."

Replied Ainge: "And I'm not eight months pregnant."

For anyone still wondering how Miami keeps beating Oklahoma, here's how Tony Kornheiser of the Washington Post sees it: "The pass is Oklahoma's Waterloo. The Sooners can't throw it. They can't catch it. And they can't stop it."

Add Oklahoma: Coach Barry Switzer backs up Kornheiser when he says: "Our quarterback throws like Woody Allen."

There's a new sport sweeping France, with 8,000 players and 150 teams registered with the national federation.

"Either it is a passing fad, like the skateboard, or a grass-roots movement with a lot of development ahead of it," said Patrice Bienfait, secretary general of the national federation.

The sport is baseball.

Joe Turner of Arizona wears goggles on the basketball court, and, like Moses Malone of the Philadelphia 76ers, he puts them on top of his head while shooting free throws.

So far it hasn't helped. For the season, Turner is 8 of 23 from the line.

For what it's worth: Nebraska has finished in the top 10 of United Press International's final football poll each of the last 14 years and in the top 20 in each of the last 19 years.

Trivia answer: Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets passed for 29 assists on Feb. 24, 1978, against the Houston Rockets.


Coach Bill Russell of the Sacramento Kings, who as a player led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons: "I'd rather be in jail in Sacramento than live in Boston."

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