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Acquisition of Erving must immediately help the Nets at the gate and on the floor. Fourth-place finishers last season, they are now championship contenders. For the ABA the sale could improve the league's chances for a lucrative TV contract and a merger with the NBA by putting basketball's most attention-getting player smack dab in the middle of medialand.
But the Erving deal represents the appearance of an unfortunate phenomenon in the ABA. Like other sports leagues it has now fallen into the pattern in which a richer, big-city team acquires a superior athlete not because of its shrewdness but rather because it is wealthier than some of its partners struggling in less-populated areas.
New York fans will have a chance to see Erving operate in the best of circumstances almost immediately. The Nets meet their local NBA rival Knicks in two exhibition games this fall, and Erving will surely be matched against Dave DeBusschere, who will retire at the end of the upcoming season to become the Nets' general manager. Will DeBusschere take it easy on the man who will be buttering his bread in the years to come? Will Erving dare to embarrass his future boss with one of his behind-the-head dunk shots?
Business relationships aside, the match between Dr. J, the best offensive forward in basketball, and DeBusschere, the strongest defender among cornermen, should be a dandy. It will be a much more even contest than the one in which the Nets got Erving for some guys named Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, none of whom can dribble, pass or shoot.
There is always something marvelous about teaching a dog to retrieve, whether it be sticks or ducks, but there is something extra special about Jasper, who is part golden retriever and part collie and has been jovially retrieving lost golf balls since he was a mere pup 10 years ago. Over that period he has enriched his master, Paul Lafleur, with 22,698 balls. Lafleur is a statistician with the Canadian government in Ottawa, so one would expect that his count would be reasonably accurate.
The very special thing about Jasper is that he returns only unblemished balls. He has learned that a ball which is damaged in any way will be thrown back into the rough and he will not get his pay—a dog biscuit.
Jasper also has learned by long and hard experience that lurking in the rough to pounce on balls which roll by on the fairway is against the Rules of Golf. He was not taught that so much by Lafleur as by scores of irate golfers waving their clubs at him.
BEEF FOR THE BEEFY
Restaurants around the country are predicting, and in some cases experiencing, a beef shortage resulting from whatever your local politician wants to blame it on. But not at the Philadelphia Eagles' training table.