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Discussion Starter #1
Could Doctor J be Sixers' operator?

JULIUS ERVING: owner?

Possibly.

The Daily News has learned via a source that Erving, the legendary Doctor J, has put together a group interested in purchasing the 76ers from Comcast-Spectacor.

The group, said to have Philadelphia ties, is hopeful of meeting with Comcast officials in the near future, the source said.

Erving, 56, who played 11 of his 16 professional seasons with the Sixers and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1993, was unavailable for comment.

Potential suitors have been advised to deal directly with Galatioto Sports Partners, a New York-based sports investment firm that has been hired by Comcast-Spectacor; they have been required to sign non-disclosure agreements.

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Hometown kid hopes to make cut

Years ago, when he was leading Wheaton's Good Counsel High School to a record 29 straight wins and a No. 19 ranking in USA Today, Roger Mason Jr. was a Wizards fan.
His affinity for the franchise dates back further.
"I watched the Bullets when they had Bernard King and Jeff Malone," the 6-foot-5 guard said. "Chris Webber, Rod Strickland and Juwan [Howard]. I've seen Rasheed Wallace come and go and I was disappointed with that. I was a fan just like the fans today and it hurt always watching the good players get out of town."

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Riley back on court to finish job

He began coming to the gym for a living back in 1967, back when he was a first-round pick of the expansion San Diego Rockets. He was a guard in a red-and-blue uniform then. There have been years since he has worked radio, TV or from the front office.

But Pat Riley has written most of his great story right here, on a basketball court like the one he stood to the side of now, doing for most of four decades what he matter-of-factly says his Heat team must do today.

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Discussion Starter #4
Starting lineup stays on hold

The NBA has become a global league.

The Spurs recently trained in France, home of guard Tony Parker. Manu Ginobili, Fabricio Oberto and Andres Nocioni play for the Argentine national team when they're not playing against each other

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Nets' Marcus back up

The Nets no longer need a new Plan B. Their original backup plan - backup point guard Marcus Williams - is going to be just fine. Williams' sprained left wrist isn't hurt nearly as badly as initially feared. Injured on Tuesday, the rookie out of UConn was back at practice yesterday.

He didn't participate in all of practice, and he won't play in tonight's home preseason game against the 76ers. But the fact that Williams already was shooting yesterday - with the injured wrist, being a lefthander - indicates that he should be back in action soon, probably in time for the season opener.

"That's the beauty of being young," Vince Carter said. "You heal quickly. Forget six weeks. Six hours!"

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Songaila to get late start

Washington Wizards forward Darius Songaila could miss a month or more because of a nagging back injury, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Songaila, whom the Wizards signed as a free agent to add versatility to the frontcourt, was injured while playing with Lithuania in September at the world championships. The Wizards had not offered a timetable for his return since then.
The 6-foot-9 Songaila was expected to miss the start of the season. A source said yesterday the Wizards believe he "might be out for a significant block" of time, possibly beyond Thanksgiving.

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Lakers are still hurting

As best he could with an injured shoulder, Lakers center Kwame Brown reached for the positive after learning Thursday that he would miss the next three to four weeks with a bruised rotator cuff and bursitis.

"Let's just hope that everybody's getting hurt early," Brown said, "so they won't get hurt late."

Without Brown, the Lakers could open the season Oct. 31 with teenage center Andrew Bynum starting.

They lost 91-90 to the Clippers in an exhibition game Thursday at Staples Center with 10players in uniform and eightinjured players in suits.

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Celts’ Pierce feels need to protect himself, but NBA has bad history with guns

Some might call this behavior paranoid -- the obsession of a self-absorbed professional athlete -- but Paul Pierce considers it common sense.
The Celtics captain keeps two guns in his spacious west suburban home -- a 9-mm handgun and a shotgun.
You never know, he says.
“I’ve been followed in my car before -- a few times -- coming home from the game,” said Pierce. “I’ve re-routed how I go, and they still followed me.”
No one ever followed Pierce all the way home, but he knows that he’s been tailed. These nondescript drivers have given him a chill. He’s on edge when it’s time to get out of the car and walk inside.

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To Steph, a ring is the thing

He has an apparel line that is more about philanthropy than filling his pockets. He has the coach he wanted from the start in Isiah Thomas. And this season, Stephon Marbury says he has matured to the point that "my approach is totally different."

Last season he tried to buy into Larry Brown's concept and made an effort, albeit a brief one, to fit his game into Brown's program. Although Brown and Thomas seem to have the same message (team concept, not one-on-one), Marbury might be understanding it better from Thomas.

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Isiah-greg Feud May Be Personal

HAD Isiah Thomas limited his harsh opinion of Greg Anthony's critical comments on ESPN about the Knicks' preference for Renaldo Balkman at No. 20 overall (over Marcus Williams, for instance) in last June's draft, he'd be well within his rights as team president and prime pusher of the seemingly peculiar pick.

After all, as Thomas underlined Wednesday to the Knicks' brow-beaten writers, he's pretty sure the NBA analyst never had beheld the South Carolina swingman when he spearheaded the widespread belittling of Balkman's selection on the network's draft show.

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A.I. admits players took advantage of classy Cheeks, vows respect

This wasn't a confessional, and none of us was a member of the clergy. This wasn't Allen Iverson offering an act of contrition; it was just the 76ers' captain acknowledging a hard truth:

The players last season, with Iverson at the forefront, took some advantage of Maurice Cheeks, a former star player and respected assistant coach and person.

That clearly wasn't the only reason they underachieved at 38-44, landing in the lottery rather than the playoffs, but it was one of them. Cheeks' first season as their head coach became memorable for more than a few wrong reasons.

"It's always like that in life, it's always like that," Iverson said after practice yesterday at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. "As a parent, you know your kid is always going to take advantage of you if they can. Anybody in life will try to take advantage if they can.

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Mavs give Howard 4-year deal

One by one, any issues that could be considered potential distractions to a championship run by the Mavericks have been picked off by owner Mark Cuban.

The last lingering matter was resolved Thursday when Josh Howard agreed to a four-year contract extension that will pay him about $40 million and keep the Mavericks' three most important players together through the 2010-11 season.

First, it was guard Jason Terry, who wrapped up a $57-million deal. Then it was Dirk Nowitzki's turn, tacking three years and $60 million onto his contract.

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