Voting for the 2004 class of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ends March 21, with the announcement at the NCAA Final Four in April.
Julius Erving says Clyde Drexler should be prepared for induction at Springfield, Mass., in September.
'Clyde is an automatic,' says Dr. J, a Hall of Famer. 'That is because of his consistent excellence during his career, the level of success his teams enjoyed, and what he brought to the game every night. Clyde represented all that was good about his era and what being a pro athlete is all about. He makes the Hall of Fame better by being there. It is not a gift; he earned it. He needs to go through the front door on the first ballot.'
Drexler, 42, who retired in 1998, is eligible for the hall for the first time. Erving places Drexler in an exclusive group that includes himself, Connie Hawkins, Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan and George Gervin Ñ 'and Vince Carter is knocking on the door' Ñ in terms of creativity.
'I always had the attitude that the game was not life and death,' Erving says. 'There is nothing wrong with daring to be great. Like mine, Clyde's game was airborne, and he was willing to try things, to make decisions in the air, not knowing what you are going to do when you are up there.
'Yeah, it's important to stick with certain fundamentals, but fans appreciate innovation. This guy had the ability to go beyond the fundamentals, to use his talent and imagination to make things happen. You don't have a nickname like 'the Glide' otherwise. He brought a big game to the court every night. That's why he became a champion.'
• Stan Brock, the Portland native who played 16 years as an NFL offensive lineman, is the offensive line coach at Army under new head coach Bobby Ross Ñ Brock's coach with the San Diego Chargers.
'It's awesome,' says Brock, 45, who coached the Arena League Portland Forest Dragons for three seasons. 'It's a fantastic place to coach. I'm dealing with cream-of-the-crop kids, and I'm working for a man I have a lot of respect for.'
Since getting fired as coach of the Arena League L.A. Avengers more than a year ago, Brock has devoted his time to running a home fire-retardant business he co-owns, Firebreak Spray Systems LLC, and serving as analyst for select NFL games on Sports USA Radio.
Brock has work to do. The Cadets were 0-13 last season.
Brock, a Colorado graduate, says he is embarrassed about the sex scandal that has tainted the Buffaloes' football program.
'But I feel for Coach (Gary) Barnett, who is a good guy,' Brock says. 'There is no excusing what has happened, but a lot of those things have been going on before his staff came to Boulder. It's difficult when coaches pay for the actions of those kids.'
• Dale Thomas was one of amateur wrestling's true legends. During his 34 years as Oregon State coach, his teams won 616 dual matches and 22 conference championships, but his impact went far beyond. He established the Kid Wrestling program in Oregon; eventually it spread nationwide. He organized a wrestling cultural exchange that sent Oregon high school athletes to such countries as Japan, Europe, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. Wrestling was his life, and with his death last week in Corvallis at age 81, a true giant in his sport is gone.
• Those reports that Jesuit's Oregon State-bound receiver, Zach Tarver, attended the September Oregon-Michigan game in Eugene wearing a Duck football jersey? After he had committed to OSU? True.
'Nothing against the Beavers,' Tarver says sheepishly. 'I just went to the game and was with some Duck fans, and I wore a Duck jersey. It was something I got as a present a long time ago. I shouldn't have worn it. Yeah, I took a lot of flak for it.'
• David Kahn, head of the Oregon Stadium Campaign, and city and business leaders continue to plug away on the big-league stadium financing plan, with the goal of completing the proposed package in mid-May. Major League Baseball, Kahn says, still plans to announce the fate of the Montreal Expos by the All-Star break in July.
Kahn says the city's financing plan likely will not include a hotel-motel tax or a business district tax, two ideas that had been floated. Officials have considered the possibility of using local urban renewal funds.
'It'll be a patchwork quilt,' Kahn says of the overall plan, which would include $150 million in state money.