No Lion! It's a Lot of Money for a Mascot

The biggest free agent for the Denver Nuggets this off-season might be the team's mascot, Rocky.

The Rocky Mountain News said the fuzzy mountain lion, who has entertained fans since 1990, is seeking a multiyear deal with a salary of more than $150,000. The deal would put Rocky in line with other agreements recently signed by the Phoenix Gorilla and the San Antonio Coyote.

Rocky told the paper that several NBA teams have inquired about his availability, but he wants to stay with the Nuggets.

"Call me corny or old-fashioned, but all I've ever wanted to do is spend my entire professional career with one team. . . . Denver is my home," he said. "And I don't ever want to leave. Sure, my contract is up. But I'd rather not get into the details, because I don't like negotiating in the newspaper."

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Trivia time: Who was the No. 1 selection in the 1996 NBA draft?

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Home improvement: A year ago, Drew Henson was living in an apartment and prepping for his junior season as Michigan's quarterback.

Now he is preparing to buy a 3,500 square-foot house on Harbor Island in Florida. Listing price: $995,000.

"Dirt is downright expensive on the island," Tampa real estate agent Jennifer Duemig said.

Henson, also a third baseman, didn't come dirt-cheap to the New York Yankees. They signed him in March to a guaranteed $17-million contract.

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Solid gold: From Peter Vecsey in the New York Post:

"I see where Antonio Davis sued the Gold Club for defamation for placing him at the scene of the slime. This just in: Anthony Mason is suing the club for not placing him there."

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Tale of the tape: Frank Candela of Peabody, Mass., is now a member of the USC football team. How he became a Trojan is unusual.

Candela, 23, who returned to football after a baseball career fizzled, sent Coach Pete Carroll a tape in December.

"I guess Coach Carroll got it as he was going out Christmas shopping," Candela said. "He took it with him, popped it into a VCR at a Best Buy and he liked what he saw. He called me on my cell phone and said, 'Listen, Frankie. I'm at Best Buy right now. I just watched your film and I wanted to ask you: Do you want to be a Trojan?' "

Said Candela: "I heard shoppers in the background cheering the tape. I told him, 'You've got my 100% commitment!' "

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A royal flush: Ohio Stadium, home of the Buckeyes, is getting a $195-million face lift. Among the improvements: 723 bathroom fixtures for women, up from 91 two years ago; and 437 for men, up from 186.

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Trivia answer: Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers.

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Suffering in Sudan: Manute Bol played 10 years in the NBA, but now is living a Spartan existence in Khartoum, Sudan, after many of his investments went bad.

The 7-foot-7 Bol has rheumatism in his knees and wrists and can barely walk. All of the furniture except for the beds in his rented house was recently sold to raise cash. He shares the house with two wives, one child and 14 relatives.

His wife from the U.S. left him and moved to New Jersey with their four children.

"I'm a nobody now, but I'm still somebody for my people. They still love me," Bol told the New York Times.

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