PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Bill Walton made his much-heralded pro debut with Portland as the regular season opened and accumulated 18 points and 24 rebounds before fouling out in overtime as the Trail Blazers edged Cleveland 131-129. Two successful free throws by Walton tied the game at 97 and sent it into extra periods—four of them. The Walton magic failed the next night as Portland lost to Detroit 122-99. The New Orleans Jazz came on less than strong in the club's NBA debut, losing its first three games. Buffalo took advantage of Cowen-less Boston 126-119, but then the Celtics reversed things 113-95. Billy Cunningham returned after two years in the ABA to help Philadelphia silence the new Jazz 112-99, and then an almost-new New York Knick team 99-86. Milwaukee, without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, settled into the cellar in the Midwest. Houston topped the Bucks 106-101, and Chicago ripped them 87-70. For the first time since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers do not have Jerry West, but Gail Goodrich compensated with 34 points in a 105-90 win over Golden State. Phoenix beat Seattle 114-97, but fell 94-91 to Kansas City-Omaha. Atlanta recovered from an opening loss to Chicago and rocked Houston 118-112.
ABA: The 10-team, two-division ABA commenced its eighth season with a bit of flash. Utah Coach Bucky Buckwalter did not plan to start Moses Malone in the Stars' opener against league-champion New York, but when Willie Wise inexplicably failed to appear for the Nets game Malone was moved up. Moses played 33 minutes, scored 19 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked two of Julius Erving's shots—not bad for a kid just out of high school. But it was not enough, as Dr. J. pumped in 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Nets snare the Stars 105-89. Reopening under new management, the Memphis Sounds dispirited St. Louis 97-92. San Antonio won its first two games. And the Denver Nuggets bounced back from an opening loss to Kentucky to upset New York 111-103.
BOATING—Austrians ROBERT JESSENIG and HANS POLASCHEGG won the Tornado class world sailing championship, off Honolulu (page 82).
BOXING—SUSUMU HANAGATA of Japan won the WBA flyweight championship, stopping Thailand's Chartchai Chionoi in the sixth round of their scheduled 15-round bout in Yokohama. Chartchai had automatically lost the title when he failed to make the division weight of 112 pounds.
PRO FOOTBALL—NFL: St. Louis, the only team still undefeated, extended its record to 6-0 with a 31-27 win over Houston, while Minnesota and New England suffered first defeats. Detroit brought down the Vikings 20-16 on a fourth-quarter touchdown by Altie Taylor. Buffalo upended the Patriots 30-28 as O.J. Simpson scored his first touchdown of the season and rolled up 122 yards rushing. Sonny Jurgensen (page 28) starred in Washington's 24-3 roasting of the New York Giants. Baltimore's Lydell Mitchell gained 156 yards in 40 carries, an NFL record, as the Colts scored their first win of the year, 35-20 over the Jets. Dallas avenged an earlier loss to Philadelphia with an emotional 31-24 victory over the Eagles that snapped a four-game Cowboy losing streak. Roy Gerela's second-half field goals of 31 and 26 yards gave Pittsburgh a 20-16 triumph over Cleveland, while New Orleans Kicker Bill McClard's 41- and 31-yarders helped the Saints defeat Atlanta 13-3. Miami needed a last-minute touchdown to beat Kansas City 9-3, and there were less than 20 seconds left when Oakland's Charlie Smith scored from the two to give the Raiders a 30-27 win over Cincinnati. Denver ripped San Diego 27-7, and Los Angeles stayed ahead in the NFC West with a 37-14 rout of San Francisco.
WFL: Southern California (12-4) clinched the Western Division championship when it burned Birmingham 29-25. Tony Adams completed 20 of 30 passes for 316 yards and two touchdowns. Memphis strengthened its Central Division lead with a 25-15 triumph over Florida. John Huarte, back from an injury, completed 10 of 18 for 212 yards. Charlotte won its first home game, 27-0 over Chicago, to keep alive its chances of catching Florida in the Eastern Division race. Portland Kicker Booth Lusteg managed a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter to give the Storm a 3-0 victory over the Hawaiians. In Philadelphia's 90,000-seat JFK Stadium, where countless thousands used to freebie their way in, only 750 showed up in the rain to watch the Bell get clanked 30-25 by Shreveport.
GOLF—TERRY DIEHL won his first pro tournament, the $125,000 San Antonio-Texas Open, with a 19-under-par 269, beating Mike Hill by a stroke.
HOCKEY—NHL: Washington won the new-team lottery, posting its first win, 4-3, over the Chicago Black Hawks. Jack Egers scored the deciding goal in the third period. Kansas City, the other ice-baby, lowered its record to 0-5. Philadelphia needed a third-period goal by Andre Dupont to edge the Scouts 3-2, but Los Angeles had little trouble shutting them out 3-0, and Atlanta topped the Scouts 4-2. Boston and Philadelphia, last year's Stanley Cup finalists, met and the Bruins crushed the Flyers 4-1 (page 90). But the Bruins could not score against Chicago and lost to the Black Hawks 4-0. It was the 47th career shutout for Tony Esposito. Atlanta scored its first win on Chicago ice in two years, upsetting the Hawks 4-3. Montreal won its first game, beating California 5-1, and Detroit had a big week, downing the Seals 7-3, Atlanta 4-2 and Washington 6-4. Los Angeles got a hat trick and an assist from Bob Nevin in its 4-1 win over Buffalo. Toronto managed two ties, and Minnesota had another. The New York Islanders disposed of Montreal 6-3, but then ran into the neighboring New York Rangers, who helped themselves to four goals in the second period and won 4-2. Buffalo exploded against California to win 6-1, and then edged Minnesota 2-1. Vancouver defeated St. Louis 6-4 and Toronto 5-4.
WHA: Phoenix took a surprise early lead in the West Division as regular-season play got underway. The Roadrunners danced past San Diego 8-2, then won 4-2 over Houston. In the Canadian Division, Winnipeg defeated Vancouver 6-2 and shut out Edmonton 4-0, while Toronto also posted two victories. The Toros, with new acquisition Frank Mahovlich, trounced New England 6-2 and Indianapolis 3-1. The Whalers won their other game, 2-1 in overtime against Michigan. Chicago and Cleveland also won in the East, the Cougars nipping Vancouver 2-1 and the Crusaders topping Minnesota 3-1. Houston's one win came on a 6-0 blanking of Vancouver, but the Aeros then fell 6-2 to upstart San Diego.
HORSE RACING—GROUP PLAN ($3.40), Jorge Velasquez aboard, finished five lengths ahead of Buffalo Lark to win the $115,120 Hawthorne Gold Cup at Hawthorne Park in Chicago. The winning time of 1:58[4/5] for 1¼ miles equaled the track record.
Forego ($6.40), Heliodoro Gustines up, furthered his chances of being named Horse of the Year with a 3½-length victory in the seven-furlong Vosburgh Handicap at Aqueduct. Forego, carrying 131 pounds, ran the distance in 1:21[3/5].
MOTOR SPORTS—DAVID PEARSON averaged 118.493 mph in a Mercury to win the American 500 stock-car race at the North Carolina Motor Speedway. Despite a late spin-out, RICHARD PETTY finished third and clinched an unprecedented fifth Grand National driving title.
TENNIS—JOHN NEWCOMBE successfully defended his Australian indoor singles championship, defeating Cliff Richey 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the final in Sydney. Newcombe pocketed $13,600 for the victory.
Evonne Goolagong defeated Chris Evert 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the $100,000 Virginia Slims Championship in Los Angeles (page 30).
MILEPOSTS—MOVED: The site of the 1975 Pan American Games, from S√£o Paulo, Brazil, to Mexico City. The Brazilian Olympic Committee withdrew its support because of financial difficulties and an outbreak of meningitis in the city.
NAMED: As head coach of the 1976 U.S. men's Olympic swimming team, JAMES (DOC) COUNSILMAN, of Indiana University; and head coach of the women's squad, JACK NELSON, of Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
DIED: MAURY JOHN, 55, former basketball coach at Iowa State and Drake; of cancer; in Ames, Iowa. He was named Coach of the Year in 1969, when Drake reached the NCAA championship finals.
DIED: ROBERT J. KLEBERG JR., 78, of the King Ranch; of cancer; in Houston. Among the outstanding thoroughbred horses bred and raced by Kleberg were Assault, the 1946 Triple Crown winner, and Middleground, who won both the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont in 1950.
DIED: EDGAR (SAM) RICE, 84, baseball Hall of Famer who played for the Washington Senators from 1915 to 1933; of cancer; in Rossmoor, Md. Rice, who had a career total of 2,987 hits, had 12 singles in the 1925 World Series, still a record.