Skate International Champions Finals
In the week after Tara Lipinski, 14, won the U.S. ladies' figure skating title, she appeared on three national talk shows, while her new official Web site received more than 5,000 visitors. Tonight Lipinski (right) renews her rivalry with dethroned U.S. champ Michelle Kwan in the last important competition before the world championships (March 16 to 23). Congratulations, condolences and/or virtual bouquets can be sent to: www.taralipinski.com.
?FOX, 8 PM
Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Hector Camacho
The easy part: IBC middleweight champion Camacho, playing the role of Caesar, will ride into the ring on an 18-foot litter carried by eight "centurions" (an honor that Caesars Atlantic City, sponsor of the bout, normally reserves for such luminaries as Buddy Hackett). Then comes the hard part: Camacho (63-3-1, 31 KOs) actually has to fight. Can the 40-year-old Leonard (page 60), playing a would-be Brutus, shake off six years of ring rust and jab Caesar into submission?
?PAY-PER-VIEW, 9 PM
1976 ABA All-Star Game
Watching the first pro slam-dunk contest, staged at halftime, is like viewing footage of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. There's a succession of ground-bound failures. ( Artis Gilmore, the Wrong Brother for this contest, is particularly awful.) But when New York Net Julius Erving (right) takes off from the foul line, one sees the future of flight. In a week featuring forgettable national NBA telecasts, Classic is showcasing Dr. J's career and its apotheosis—which includes Game 6 of the Philadelphia 76ers- Portland Trail Blazers 77 NBA Finals (Thursday, 9 p.m.) and the Sixers- Los Angeles Lakers '83 Finals (Sunday, March 9, 11 p.m.)—as a welcome alternative.
?CLASSIC SPORTS, 9 PM
Big East Tournament
With only one team from this once proud conference in the Top 25 at week's end ( Villanova, at No. 19), the main story line in New York is the plight of the Big East's NCAA tournament bubble teams, such as 15-10 Miami. The Hurricanes, led by forward Tim James (right), need at least two wins here to make the NCAA selection committee take notice. What this event lacks in star power, it makes up for with sheer volume: a dozen games in four days, culminating in the final on Saturday, March 8, on ESPN at 8 p.m.
? ESPN2, 11 AM, 7:30 PM, 9:30 PM ESPN, 1 PM, 3 PM
Wake Forest tries to become only the third school to win three consecutive ACC tournament titles, but this hoops trinity is hardly a holy one. The two teams that have performed the feat ( North Carolina State, from 1954 to '56, and North Carolina, from '67 to '69) didn't win the NCAA championship in any of those years, and in the past two seasons Wake hasn't advanced past the NCAA round of eight. With a field that features five Top 15 teams, this year's tournament (whose quarterfinals are today and which continues through the weekend with the final on Sunday, March 9, at 1 p.m. on ESPN) may be Clemson's coming-out party. The Tigers, who were 20-7 at week's end, are the only original ACC team not to have won the event since its inception in '54.
? ESPN, NOON, 2 PM; ESPN2, 9 PM