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Prep Star Tops Shaq, at Least on the Net

It’s all about LeBron.

That’s LeBron James. His games will be on pay-per-view cable in parts of Ohio this season -- his high school basketball games. The Chicago Bulls are joking about being in the James derby. And Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett has him on speed dial on his cell phone.

James recently made another list, pulling up at No. 6, behind Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady. That’s right. According to Lycos, an Internet search engine, James gets more search hits than every NBA player except those five.

One question: Where was Shaquille O’Neal? Has he tumbled into the what-have-you-done-for-me-in-the-last-five-minutes category?

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Add hoop-la: There’s always the next Jordan on deck, or in this case, the next LeBron waiting in the wings. Newsday columnist Johnette Howard got an eyeful from a magazine spread on a high school junior.

“Curiously, not enough people shrieked ‘exploitation’ when next year’s LeBron James -- Sebastian Telfair, now a junior star at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School -- showed up recently, dripping with diamonds and gold jewelry and surrounded by models wearing lingerie in an eight-page photo spread in Dime magazine,” she wrote.

“When the Dime issue showed up in my mailbox, I couldn’t believe it. Telfair is what -- all of 17? Are we supposed to believe the poor lamb was tricked? Bamboozled? Originally told those models would be wearing terrycloth bathrobes instead of next to nothing?

“Or did Telfair happily pose like that because he’s living the life, playing the game?”

Trivia time: How many times did Michigan beat rival Ohio State in football in the ‘90s?

Prep kudos: And now, a much-needed pause from negativity in high school sports.

Two prep teams were honored in Massachusetts for acts of sportsmanship. Westboro High’s golf coach found a scoring error after his team had won its state title and everyone had departed. He reported the mistake and the trophy went to Woburn.

The other team was the Reading High girls’ soccer team. When the team, which, incidentally, hadn’t received a red card or even a yellow card all season, realized it had inadvertently received a higher-seeded spot in the playoffs than it was entitled to, officials were informed of the error.

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Reading room: Cue the ominous music for the Bulls’ annual marathon trip, having to vacate the United Center for the circus. But Coach Bill Cartwright won’t be handing out the same sort of reading material Phil Jackson used to hand out to the Bulls, a specific book for each player.

“Nobody read those books Phil passed out,” Cartwright told the Chicago Tribune, smiling. “That’s the part you should understand.”

Trivia answer: Seven.

And finally: NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter on new Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart: “He is definitely not vanilla, he is Neapolitan, and you get a little bit of everything with Tony Stewart.

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“We know he can charm Godzilla when he wants to. We also know that when he puts on his game face and gets ready to race, leave him alone, get out of the way.”

-- Lisa Dillman


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