On the ball that Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal shot to score his 20,000th NBA point Thursday in Sacramento, SHAQ IS AN A—HOLE. Lakers officials noticed the declarative shortly after the game when they got the ball from referee Danny Crawford. The Kings have asked the Lakers to return the ball and plan to compare the handwriting with that of employees who work at courtside. In addition to referring to the Kings as the Queens, O'Neal recently derided the inclusion of Kings point guard Mike Bibby on the 2004 Olympic team.
Because of security concerns, last Sunday's Washington, D.C. Marathon. The organizers, H20 Entertainment Group, decided to cancel the race after receiving more than 1,200 anxious e-mails and phone calls from runners. H20 is not planning to refund the $65-$95 entry fees, and D.C. mayor Tony Williams has spoken out against the group on the runners' behalf. About 500 of the 6,801 entrants ran an unofficial marathon through D.C. on Sunday, sticking close to the regular course. Last October several smaller races in the D.C. area were canceled because of the sniper attacks.
To former Watford striker George Reilly, his right ear, which was bitten off by a fan of a rival English soccer team. In 1984 Reilly scored Watford's goal in a 1-0 win over Plymouth Argyle in the prestigious FA Cup. Last Monday, Reilly, who works as a bricklayer, was attacked at a work site near his home in Corby. An unidentified man knocked Reilly down, chewed off his right ear, then whispered " Plymouth" and fled. Reilly needed 50 stitches to repair the damage and eight stitches near his eye. "I looked like the Elephant Man," he said. "People have strong loyalties, but this is unbelievable."
By U.S. Basketball Academy president Bruce O'Neil, a head coach for Kuwait's national hoops team. O'Neil says the job pays $60,000 a year, plus luxury housing, but "we're having I trouble finding interested candidates." After all of the dozen coaches he reached declined the offer (including ex-Kuwaiti coach Jim Calvin, who fled that country during the first Gulf War), O'Neil and Kuwaiti officials postponed the search.
Of unknown causes, Sammy Packard, 83, the last surviving founder of NASCAR. On Dec. 14, 1947, Packard was one of 35 racers, mechanics and promoters whom Bill France Sr. called to a summit in the Ebony Bar atop Daytona Beach's Streamline Hotel to lay the groundwork for the organization. Packard, a Providence native, was racing in Daytona, where he was a mechanic at France's gas station. "People didn't like a Yankee winning their races," he said last month. "They threw bottles and rocks at me. So Bill started telling people I was from Atlanta. Once everyone believed I was from Atlanta, they liked me."