BASEBALL—For the first time ever, trades out-numbered rumors at the winter meetings (page 22). Some 15 deals were made in Phoenix, involving 54 players and 18 of the 24 major league teams. The most significant trade sent Baltimore Outfielder FRANK ROBINSON, a two-time Most Valuable Player, and Relief Pitcher PETER RICHERT to the Los Angeles Dodgers for four young players: Pitchers Doyle Alexander and Bob O'Brien, Catcher Sergio Robles and Outfielder-First Baseman Royle Stillman.
BASKETBALL—NBA: Pacific leader Los Angeles kept winning and winning (page 24), leaving two distressed teams in its wake. Second-place Seattle won three of five, including a 110-109 victory over New York in which the SuperSonics trailed by 26 points with 20 minutes left. Nevertheless, they fell six games behind the Lakers. Golden State, a game further back in third, managed to beat Midwest leader Milwaukee for the second time this season; the Bucks have only four losses. But the Warriors then dropped games to Portland and Phoenix. Cleveland, which had a 1-27 record at this time last year, extended its surprising winning streak to five by beating Philadelphia 124-120 and Houston 116-106 and moved into second place in the Central Division with a 9-15 mark. But when rookie Guard Austin Carr, who had sparked the drive, sprained a twice-broken foot and was forced out of the lineup, the Cavaliers dropped a 91-90 heart-breaker to Buffalo. The Braves won on Walt Hazzard's free throw after Cleveland was hit with a technical foul for calling too many time-outs. Boston stayed atop the Atlantic Division, whipping Houston 117-107 as John Havlicek and Jo Jo White combined for 63 points. Baltimore lost its three games but still led the losers' division (Central) with a 10-15 record. Cincinnati Coach Bob Cousy was so upset when the Royals lost by 38 points to Milwaukee—playing without Kareem Jabbar, who had the flu—that he fined everyone on the team, including himself.
ABA: Charlie Scott regained the scoring lead and Virginia ripped off three straight wins. Scott had 46 points as the Squires topped Pittsburgh 134-129, 37 more in a 128-121 overtime win over Indiana and 48 to help beat New York by 126-124. But Kentucky also took three straight to keep its two-game lead in the East. Memphis stopped Utah's streak at eight with a 117-114 win, but the Stars matched second-place Indiana with a 2-1 record and led by three games in the West.
FOOTBALL—AFC: Rookie Jim Plunkett completed 16 of 23 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, both to rookie Randy Vataha, to lead NEW ENGLAND to a stunning 34-13 upset of East leader Miami, which had crushed Chicago 34-3 in the Monday night TV game. The defeat snapped the eight-game Dolphin winning streak. BALTIMORE climbed to within half a game of Miami by shutting out Buffalo 24-0. Leroy Kelly, who gained 127 yards rushing, scored a four-yard touchdown with 1:48 remaining to give CLEVELAND a 31-27 win over Cincinnati and the Central Division title. Pittsburgh was eliminated when HOUSTON upset the Steelers 29-3 as Terry Bradshaw had three straight passes intercepted in the first half. Jim Turner's two field goals lifted DENVER past Chicago 6-3.
NFC: Rookie Isaac Thomas ran back the opening kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown and the rout was on as DALLAS, the East leader, humiliated the New York Jets 52-10. WASHINGTON, half a game back, converted three first-period interceptions into two field goals and a touchdown to beat the New York Giants 23-7. In the Central Division, first-place Minnesota and Detroit, 1½ games behind, both stumbled as SAN DIEGO scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to wallop the Vikings 30-14, and PHILADELPHIA edged the Lions 23-20 on Pete Liske's five-yard touchdown pass with one minute left to play. Willie Ellison gained 247 yards in 26 carries to break Cookie Gilchrist's eight-year-old rushing record by four yards as LOS ANGELES defeated New Orleans 45-28. ATLANTA intercepted two passes and recovered three fumbles to hand Oakland its second straight defeat, 24-13, while rookie Tim Webster kicked a 27-yard field goal as the game ended to give Green Bay a 16-16 tie with St. Louis.
College: Top-ranked NEBRASKA finished its regular-season schedule undefeated with a predictably easy 45-3 victory over Hawaii (page 77). Bobby Majors gained 195 yards on returns to lead TENNESSEE to a 31-11 upset over previously unbeaten Penn State. Third-ranked OKLAHOMA breezed by Oklahoma State 58-14 behind Quarterback Jack Mildren, who scored twice and passed for a third touchdown, and Halfback Greg Pruitt, who ran for 189 yards. SYRACUSE shut out Miami 14-0 to give Coach Ben Schwartzwalder his 22nd straight nonlosing season. Brian Sipe completed 30 of 53 passes to become the NCAA university division's leading passer this season as SAN DIEGO STATE crushed North Texas State 44-28, while Tom Reynolds caught nine passes for 172 yards to lead the nation's pass catchers with 67.
HARNESS RACING—FRESH YANKEE ($3.60), driven by Joe O'Brien, won the $100,000 American Trotting Classic at California's Hollywood Park by 1½ lengths over Marlu Pride.
HOCKEY—First-place Minnesota moved five points ahead of Chicago in the West Division, beating California 4-1 and Philadelphia 3-1, while the Black Hawks dropped two of three to expansion teams. Bill Goldsworthy had his second hat trick of the season against the Seals and Jude Drouin scored twice against the Flyers, but the difference, as usual, was the North Star goaltending of Cesare Maniago and Gump Worsley; California outshot Minnesota 31-28 with Maniago in the nets, and Philadelphia took 36 shots to 28 by Minnesota with Worsley in goal. Bob Leiter's hat trick gave Pittsburgh a 4-2 win over Detroit, breaking a six-game losing streak, and the Penguins went on to grab third place in the West by beating New York 4-2. The Rangers won their other two games to stay tied for the lead in the East with Montreal, which also won two of three, including Ken Dryden's third shutout of the season, 7-0 over Vancouver.
HORSE RACING—PARAJE ($3.40), ridden by the nation's leading jockey, Laffit Pincay, won the 2¼ mile, $56,400 Display Handicap at Aqueduct by half a length over Chompion.
SKIING—Two defending world champions, BERNARD RUSSI of Switzerland and ANNE-MARIE PROELL of Austria, won the season's first World Cup races in St. Moritz, Switzerland. Russi was timed in 1:53.93 over the 2,980-meter men's course to edge Austrian Heini Messner by .05. Miss Proell's time of 1:46.6 over 2,400 meters was 1.09 better than Fran√ßoise Macchi of France.
SWIMMING—SHANE GOULD of Australia clipped 1.3 seconds off the women's world 800-meter freestyle record with a time of 8:58.1 in Sydney. Miss Gould, 15, now holds records for the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyles and shares the 100-meter record with Dawn Fraser.
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: ACK ACK, five, winner of his last seven starts, six of them stakes races, as 1971 Horse of the Year by Turf and Sport Digest in its 36th annual poll. CANONERO II, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, was voted top 3-year-old.
NAMED: ALBATROSS, as harness racing's Horse of the Year. Pacing faster and earning more money in one year than any other standardbred in history, the 3-year-old won $558,009, finished first in 25 of 28 races and twice was clocked in 1:54[4/5] for the mile.
NAMED: HORACIO IGLESIAS, of Argentina, and SHADIA EL RAGAB, of Egypt, as 1971 world marathon swimming champions. Iglesias gained 3,023.5 points by winning three of the six international races sanctioned by the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation. Miss El Ragab edged Diana Nyad of the U.S. 1,785 points to 1,638.5.
RECOGNIZED: THE ALL AMERICA KARATE FEDERATION, as an allied member in the U.S. of the Japanese martial art, now accepted as a legitimate sport, by the AAU.
RESIGNED: MURRAY WARMATH, 58, as football coach at Minnesota. Warmath had a 97-84-10 record in two seasons at Mississippi State and 18 at Minnesota. He will become assistant athletic director in charge of special projects. Athletic Director MARSH RYMAN, 61, was replaced by PAUL GIEL, 39, a former two-sport star at Minnesota and later major league pitcher.
FIRED: ROY LESTER, 48, as head football coach at Maryland following a three-year record of 7-25.
DIED: PETER PELETTA, 43, athletic director and former basketball coach at the University of San Francisco; of cancer in San Francisco. Peletta, who cached USF from 1960 to 1966, had a 114-51 record and the highest winning percentage (69%) of any basketball coach in the history of the school.