When Walter J. Hickel was appointed Secretary of the Interior, there was widespread dismay among conservationists who assumed he would be prone to yield to the wishes of the country's oil and industrial interests. Instead, in two years in Washington he has proved to be an impressive and resolute figure. Among his accomplishments: at his insistence, the Government has taken unprecedented steps to regulate offshore oil drilling and to punish the offenders who pollute. But the Secretary has also aroused opposition in and out of Government with his outspoken comments, and his name is on the list of Cabinet members likely to be replaced Jan. 1. Wally won't go without a fight, but survival is a tough business. How does that endangered-species list go again—the whooping crane, the black-footed ferret, the Walter J. Hickel....
Jerry Colangelo, the energetic young manager of the Phoenix Suns, is worried about team standings in the NBA. He noted last week that his club had a 10-9 record and, at the moment, was in last place in the league's Midwest Division. He had a game scheduled that night with the Baltimore Bullets, who at 11-8, only one game better than the Suns, were in first place in the Central Division—and by 4� games. Some other things caught Colangelo's attention: the Midwest Division had an overall record of 45-23, while the Central Division was 22-51. The Atlantic Division was 41-34. Only the Pacific Division was at a theoretically normal 45-45.
Armed with these figures, Colangelo went to a meeting of the NBA's Board of Governors and suggested that the eight-team postseason playoff be altered. Right now, the first-and second-place teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. Colangelo agreed that the division champions should go into the playoffs regardless of their won-lost records, but he argued that the other four places should be filled by the four teams with the best winning percentages among the also-rans, regardless of division. His suggestion was briskly rejected.
"I think the owners should have rectified the situation," Colangelo said later. "It is obvious that realignment isn't working out. There's no balance of power at all. One team can play .375 ball and get into the playoffs, and another can be over .500 and not make it."
WHATCHA DOIN', FELLAS?
Gilbert and Jim Hagford were hunting in the Minnesota woods when they heard a cowbell clanking. They patiently waited for Old Bossy to appear, but what came through the brush was a deer, wearing a cowbell fastened to a bright orange ribbon. Realizing the deer was a pet, they left it alone. But the deer did not want to be left alone. When the brothers Hagford moved off, it ambled along after them, its bell ringing away.
"It got to be a nuisance," Gilbert said. "We couldn't hunt deer. We never even saw any other deer. Not much chance of that with this dingaling around."
OUT OF THE MOUTH
Howard Cosell was loose in Dallas last week, where he fielded questions at an I Hate Howard luncheon. After receiving a standing ovation, Cosell gave his usual wishy-washy answers.