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He Only Adds to Hoopla

Hey, good news in Thursday morning’s Rome newspapers: Not a single mention about anybody in Italy being interested in Bo Kimble.

The big story--after several pages of soccer, of course--in Il Messaggero Roma was headlined: “Torno a Roma” --"I’m Returning to Rome.”

The athlete being quoted, though, was neither Kimble, who was drafted Wednesday by the Clippers and once expressed interest in playing basketball in Italy, nor Danny Ferry, who was drafted in 1989 by the Clippers and did play in Italy, for a team sponsored by Il Messaggero. No, the speaker was Brian Shaw, the former NBA first-round draft choice from UC Santa Barbara who keeps trying not to play for the Boston Celtics.

Shaw insisted again Wednesday that he was returning to Rome for another season, even though a federal judge in Boston upheld the validity of a five-year, $6.2-million contract Shaw has with the Celtics, binding him to the NBA club through 1994.

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Carlo Sama, the president of Il Messaggero Roma who was in New York for the NBA draft, said Brian and his father, Charles Shaw, reassured him after the judge’s verdict that, one way or another, by Aug. 4 Brian would report with his teammates to the team in Rome. “We sealed with a hug our longstanding relationship,” Sama said.

If there were any other American players Sama wanted, including those drafted Wednesday, he didn’t say. Or if he did, it got buried in the soccer news. With all this soccer, they hardly have room to squeeze in Tank McNamara over here.

World Cup journal, Week 3 continues:

With a big game on TV, Rachan Pinthong hurried up and put his crocodiles to bed for the night. Then he rushed back to his farmhouse in Buri Ram, Thailand, to watch the World Cup.

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Well, just as some Thai version of Brent Musburger was in the process of yelling, “You are looking live!” several thieves slipped unnoticed onto Pinthong’s property. Yes, it was those diabolical crocodile rustlers every Thailand farmer fears.

They drugged the crocs with a pesticide, bundled them up and made off with the lot. Pinthong rose the next morning to discover that the beasts he had been breeding were gone.

And some unlucky Thailand tourist next week will have to do without a really nice matching purse and shoes.

Then there were the TV viewers in Calcutta who were just getting into another exciting match when the electricity went out, interrupting the telecast.

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This happens in the United States all the time, but the reaction is usually not quite so severe. Hundreds of angry Indian fans went right out, discovered the whereabouts of a number of officials from the power department . . . and beat them up.

They literally dragged these officials out of their offices, spat on them and pounded them with their fists, which is something they generally frown upon at Southern California Edison. Mamta Banerjee, meanwhile, had an even better idea. A member of a political party that opposes the Marxist state government, Banerjee declared: “The government has failed totally! They cannot provide us with security, law and order, water! Now, even the World Cup has been denied us!

“They should resign immediately!”

Read and heed, George Bush. Raising taxes is one thing, but next time something serious such as our Super Bowl coverage gets interrupted, we may be coming after you.

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The award for Best Hair of the World Cup is still up for grabs, but certainly the early leaders remain:

--Carlos Valderrama, Colombia. Sort of a Harpo Marx meets Andre Agassi hairdo, bushy and red, making Valderrama resemble something on the order of a small, lovely, shady tree.

--Ruud Gullit, the Netherlands. Dreadlocks any Dutch reggae singer would envy. Pippi Longstocking didn’t have pigtails this long.

--Salvatore Schillaci, Italy. A hero not only to his people for his goal-scoring, but to those of us who over the years have come to appreciate the Terry Bradshaw/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar/Kirk Gibson receding-scalp look. Thanks, Sal.

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Speaking of good hair, we sure are sorry to see El Loco go.

Rene Higuita was as colorful a player as there was in the tournament. He was Colombia’s goalkeeper, the one with the flowing hair that went flying and flopping whenever and wherever Higuita went flying and flopping.

Everybody back in Bogota referred to the goalkeeper as El Loco because, instead of playing it safe, Walk-Away Rene would stray far from his box, sometimes 20 and 30 yards toward midfield, to chase down loose balls. He made Kelly Hrudey of the Kings look like a stay-at-home.

Alas, El Loco went too far. With a game against Cameroon on the line, and Colombia’s chances of advancing to the Cup quarterfinals for the first time along with it, Higuita took it upon himself in the 106th minute of play to wander far from goal. How far? Let’s just say an usher asked to see his ticket.

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Anyway, Roger Milla of Cameroon came along and stole the ball from him, which made El Loco’s hair stand on end, obstructing the view of thousands of spectators. Milla scored, Colombia lost, and Higuita called his mistake “as big as a house.” He did not specify ranch, Spanish colonial or split-level.

Many Colombians said they would forgive El Loco his mistake. Even so, embarrassing moments such as these are why so many goalies wear masks.

Best Dance After a Winning Goal in the World Cup: Milla, Cameroon, hands down. Elmo Wright, Billy (White Shoes) Johnson and Ickey Woods had nothing on this guy.

At least the popular Brussels newspaper, La Derniere Heure, took Belgium’s 1-0 defeat by England in stride.

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Wednesday’s sports-page headline read: “We Should Shoot Ourselves.”

For some reason, we cannot remember this headline appearing in Los Angeles papers after the Phoenix series.

The day before the game, when the Belgians were still uncertain whether injured defender Georges Grun would be able to play, a headline in the International Herald Tribune read: “Belgium Waits Word on Hurt Grun.”

Yeah, man, we know. Grun injuries are the worst.

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