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Stern Is Losing This Civil Judgment

Times Staff Writer

“The words of a phony,” wrote Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, describing NBA Commissioner David Stern’s indignation in the wake of the infamous Piston-Pacer brawl.

“This is the guy who has been in charge of the NBA as DJs have been allowed to circle the court with hand-held mikes, screaming at the crowd to scream, and flash pots and towering flames have become a staple of pregame introductions,” Reusse added.

“The lights are turned off in nearly every arena, and the home-team starters strut through a spotlight to the accompaniment of further screams from a big-voiced announcer.

“Semi-naked young women wiggle about to gangsta rap’s greatest hits, and Kevin Garnett and other superstars scream, bug-eyed from the giant video boards, for more fervor from the fans ... more, more, more.

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“Your league isn’t a reflection of a breakdown in civility,” Reusse admonished Stern. “Your league is helping to lead the charge.”

Trivia time: When 71-year-old Hubie Brown resigned Thursday from the Memphis Grizzlies, who was left as the NBA’s oldest head coach?

The downside of D.C.: Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun points out that Washington Redskin owner Dan Snyder’s “attempt to purchase a major stake in the Six Flags amusement chain just focused attention on his inability to purchase one flag in the NFL.

“I’d call the Snyder era a roller-coaster ride,” Schmuck added, “except that roller coasters go up once in a while.”

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The us generation: Worrying about what the bowl championship series has in store for Cal, Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, “The BCS is just another monument to the big-school athletic directors of America, whose motto is, ‘Actually, now that you ask, yes, it is all about us.’ ”

Mad Mac? John McEnroe, who played with Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors, among others, and watched such champions as Pete Sampras and Rod Laver, says Roger Federer can be the best player in tennis history.

“If he can keep this level, even for another three or four years, he’s going to be the greatest player that ever lived,” McEnroe said of Federer, who won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open this year, the first man since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win three Grand Slam titles in one year. “He’s the most awesome talent I’ve ever seen.”

Hard to swallow: When Jack Rogers, chairman of the Alamo Bowl, invited Ohio State, he called the team “exciting.” Even Buckeye Coach Jim Tressel found that a stretch.

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“There was a point in the season where we were just trying to get a first down,” Tressel said.

That must have been the point where Chuck Culpepper of Newsday wrote that watching Ohio State was “like watching well-coached molasses.”

Trivia answer: The New York Knicks’ Lenny Wilkens, who is 67.

And finally: “Be thankful for the rich contribution the NHL has made to society this season by staying away,” wrote Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Just think, somewhere on a Saturday night in Moose Jaw, a kid is actually reading a book.”

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