Celtics Strong as the Ottoman Empire in 1914

Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe writing on the once proud but now struggling Boston Celtics: "The Celtics have been bad before, but they've never before been this myopic in the front office. They live in a constant state of denial. They still think they are, you know, the CELTICS. The rest of the basketball world views them as the celtics.

"They are the Ottoman Empire, circa 1914, a once-great regime in the final stages of collapse. Don't call the medic. Call the coroner."

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Trivia time: Who are the three former UCLA players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

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Wild and crazy guy: From NABC Courtside, the in-house publication for the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches:

"SMU Coach John Shumate's tongue shot an airball recently when he was asked on a radio show to expound about his New Jersey roots.

"'I was the Playboy of the Year in New Jersey,' Shumate said. "'Uh, I mean I was the Schoolboy of the Year. I guess there's a pretty big difference between those two things, huh?' "

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Strange noises: From the Humboldt State University newspaper, the Lumberjack, in its police report of Feb. 8:

"There were reports of a woman screaming late Friday night near the tennis courts. The screams were determined to be from a group of women chanting along with drummers in the field house behind the Forbes Complex."

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Modern times: Charlie Vincent in the Detroit Free Press: "Today, too many of the NBA's best players take the money and run. No. That's not true; they take the money and saunter. Too few run."

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Different values: Darryl Dawkins, now 38 and playing for the Harlem Globetrotters, was shattering backboards in the NBA 20 years ago.

"Back then, I got fined for breaking a backboard," Dawkins said. "Nowadays Shaq (O'Neal) breaks a backboard, and they make a commercial out of it."

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Comedy clubs: Dave Anderson of the New York Times writes now that the major leagues are made up of replacement players, it's time to recall the famous Bud Abbott and Lou Costello vaudeville routine:

"Who's on first, What's on second, and I Don't Know is on third."

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Hold the mustard: In the closing minutes of a recent game against the Boston Bruins, a ketchup bottle thrown by a fan found its mark: the trousers of Hartford Whaler Coach Paul Holmgren.

"I ended up smelling like a giant hot dog," Holmgren said.

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Trivia answer: Tom Fears, Jimmy Johnson and Bob Waterfield.

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Quotebook: Bill Lee, former major league pitcher, on why southpaws are considered flaky: "What do you expect in a northpaw world?"

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