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It Takes Great One to Know a Great One

Times Staff Writer

Who is the greatest athlete in the world? Wayne Gretzky says Tiger Woods.

“He may be the greatest of all time,” Gretzky told Dan Patrick on ESPN radio recently.

“You thought about giving him your nickname?” Patrick wondered.

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Trivia time: Who is the Kings’ all-time leading scorer?

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Weighty issue: Washington State’s 6-foot-2, 269-pound senior center, Mike Shelford, in a Q&A; with the Spokane Spokesman-Review, was asked what is the best part about being an offensive lineman.

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Shelford: It’s all right to be fat. You can eat whatever you want, and no one will be like, “Man, you’re fat.” You just say, “I’m an offensive lineman.”

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Question: Well, then, what is the worst part?

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Shelford: The worst part is being fat. When I’m done with football, I’ll just be a regular fat guy.

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A revised quote: The book, “Quotable Woody,” compiled by Monte Carpenter, has the late Woody Hayes saying, “I used to say when passing, three things can happen and two of them are bad. I don’t say that anymore, because I found there are four things. The fourth thing is, you can get fired.”

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The Bear facts: Roger Beck of Chino Hills, a former Times staffer, e-mailed to say Bear Bryant was the originator of the “when passing” quote. “Let me put your controversy to rest.... I distinctly recall quoting Bear as saying in his typical Southern drawl: ‘When you put the ball up in the air, son, three things can happen, and two of them’s bad.’ ”

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Passing, UCLA style: From reader Fred C. Helms: “With UCLA’s passing attack, it’s four bad things -- incomplete pass, interception, quarterback sack and four-yard route on third and nine.”

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No Clipper fan: The Clippers were on TNT on Thursday night, so Charles Barkley got a rare look at them.

“I don’t watch the Clippers unless we [TNT] have them,” Barkley said. “I’d rather watch ‘The X Files.’ ”

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Time warp: Jockeys Alex Solis, Victor Espinoza and Corey Nakatani will be in Toyko on Sunday to ride in the Japan Cup, and later the same day will be at Hollywood Park for one or both of two Grade I stakes, the Matriarch and the Hollywood Derby.

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A chartered helicopter ride to the Tokyo airport and the international dateline will enable them to accomplish this geographically challenging feat.

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Trivia answer: Marcel Dionne with 1,307 points. Luc Robitaille is second with 1,096, Dave Taylor third with 1,069, and Gretzky fourth with 918.

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And finally: Jerry Clark, executive director of the Southern California Sports Broadcasters, recalled this prophetic quote from a speech former UCLA basketball coach Steve Lavin made as a guest speaker at an SCSB luncheon a year ago:

“After opening the season 0-2, I have been asked if I have a fall-back career. As I looked around this room full of sportscasters, eating and telling stories, I said to myself, ‘I can do that.’ ”

Larry Stewart can be reached at

larry.stewart@latimes.com.


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