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NBA Notes : Bird’s Return Date Still Unknown

Associated Press

Jan Volk, general manager of the Boston Celtics, says that March 1 was never meant to be a target date for Larry Bird’s return to the Boston Celtics’ lineup.

“When someone is recovering for four months, there’s no way you can put an exact date on someone’s return,” Volk said. “March 1 was just a projection, not a prediction. We don’t consider it a setback that he’s not playing yet.

Bird, who hasn’t played since Nov. 15 after surgery on both heels, is going through some drills with the team, but Volk still won’t guess when he’ll return.

“I would consider it a setback if he’s not back in March, but that’s just my expectation,” Volk said. “But we have to go conservatively because we have to consider the long haul.”

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“I’ve had a lot of letters, a lot of gifts, a lot of flowers,” Bird said of his absence. “It hasn’t been a lot of fun. But I do like looking at the flowers.”

Tom Chambers, never a popular figure in Seattle, is winning friends in Phoenix with his praise of teammates and Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons.

“Cotton is always optimistic, always motivated,” Chambers said. “He’s always honest and upfront with me and everyone on the team.”

It didn’t take Joe Kleine long to learn about Celtics tradition when he was traded to Boston by the Sacramento Kings.

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“Jan Volk called me and we started to pick out a number, only they don’t have any numbers. They’re all retired,” Kleine said. “It took 15 minutes to pick out a number. I realized these guys are doing something right.”

Kleine, who ended up getting No. 53, found out about the trade while coaching his wife through labor.

The New York Knicks teams of the late 1960s and early 1970s enjoy near-legendary status in the Big Apple, but that didn’t stop Nets coach Willis Reed, the center on the Knicks’ championship teams, from asking center Patrick Ewing to keep a lower profile.

“I told Patrick not to let the Knicks get so good that they’ll forget about us,” Reed said. “He said not to worry about it, he won’t let it happen.”

Last Sunday, the Knicks’ 21st consecutive victory at Madison Square Garden eclipsed the team record of 20 set in 1968-69 and matched in 1972-73.

The Knicks, meanwhile, have become the first team in NBA history with three players hitting more than 50 3-pointers in a season. They also have the records for 3-pointers made and attempted, and they still have 24 games remaining.

Trent Tucker, Johnny Newman and Mark Jackson all have passed the 60 mark for 3-pointers. Four NBA teams -- Detroit, the Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio and Washington -- have fewer than that.

The Fates haven’t been kind to the two previous winners of NBA Coach of the Year honors.

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The 1988 winner, Mike Schuler, was fired as coach of the Portland Trail Blazers on Feb. 18 and Doug Moe, winner in 1987, is battling to get the Denver Nuggets into the playoffs after a siege of injuries.

Michael Jordan has played less than five NBA seasons, but he already is closing in on the Chicago Bulls’ career scoring record.

Jordan, who recently became the second-fastest player to reach the 10,000-point plateau, trails only Bob Love for the Bulls. Love, who played nine seasons with the Bulls, finished with 12,623 on Chicago’s all-time list.


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