PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Ironically enough, the most interesting race at the end of the season occurred between two sub-.500 clubs, New York and Cleveland, fighting for one wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. On Thursday night the two contenders met in Cleveland before the largest NBA crowd ever (20,239). The Cavaliers took the Knicks 100-95, strengthening their playoff hopes. A Knickerbocker loss to Milwaukee (109-101) the next night left it so that all Cleveland needed was a New York loss to Buffalo on Sunday. What they did not need was the Knicks defeating the Braves 105-93 and their own loss to Kansas City-Omaha 95-94. New York thereby came up with the better hand and landed the wild card. Already set for postseason play were Boston and Buffalo (Atlantic), Washington and Houston (Central), Chicago and Kansas City-Omaha (Midwest) and Golden State and Seattle (Pacific) and Western wild card Detroit (page 32).
ABA: Playing before a home crowd, Kentucky wrested the Eastern Division crown from New York, beating the Nets 108-99 in an extra game to break a first-place deadlock. The Colonels and Nets had ended the regular season tied for the top spot with identical 58-26 records. Kentucky came into the tie breaker having won nine straight, while New York had won three in a row following a four-game losing streak. The Spirits of St. Louis finished third with a 32-52 record, Memphis was fourth (27-57) and Virginia compiled the worst record in the league's eight-year history (15-69). In contrast, Western titleholder Denver was 65-19 for the best showing in either division. Balanced scoring seemed to be the key to the Nuggets' success; in a 148-121 defeat of San Diego, nine Denver players were in double figures. Second-place San Antonio ended the regular season at 51-33 and began its playoff series with third-place Indiana (45-39). Utah was 38-46, and last-place San Diego 31-53.
BOXING—ERBITO SALVARRIA of the Philippines won the WBA flyweight title from Susumu Hanagata on a 15-round split decision, in Toyama, Japan.
DIVING—Lt. PHIL BOGGS of the Air Force retained his three-meter crown in the AAU indoor championships held at Cleveland State. Two Ohio State students, CARRIE IRISH and TIM MOORE, took the 10-meter competition, as well as the women's three-meter and men's one-meter titles, and 15-year-old Alabama high school student JENNI CHANDLER took the women's one-meter.
GOLF—TOM WEISKOPF won the Greater Greensboro Open by three strokes over Al Geiberger with a final-round 68 and a nine-under-par 275. Weiskopf's 10th PGA title earned him $45,000.
LPGA tour leader JANE BLALOCK won her second event in two weeks, Tokyo's $33,333 World Ladies Tournament, by one stroke over Soyoko Yamazaki of Japan. Blalock shot a one-under-par 221.
GYMNASTICS—The UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA took the NCAA championship with 437.325 points, edging Louisiana State (433.7) and Southern Illinois (431.5) in Terre Haute, Ind. Wayne Young of Brigham Young won the all-around (page 30).
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: The end of regular-season play left 12 of 18 teams alive for the playoffs. Three at the top of each of the four divisions were eligible. In the Patrick, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers and the N.Y. Islanders were set, leaving Atlanta out in the cold. The Flames were edged out of postseason play after a 3-2 home loss to the Rangers. Smythe teams Vancouver, St. Louis and Chicago qualified, as did Buffalo, Boston and Toronto in the Adams, and Montreal, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh in the Norris. Among the strong finishers were Canuck backup Goalie Ken Lockett, who had two shutouts in two nights, and defending Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia, which will have a 14-game unbeaten streak on the line when it begins play in the second round (page 33).
WHA: Playoff spots went to the two top finishers in each division, with wild-card berths awarded to the two with the next-best records. Translated, first-place New England (East), Houston (West) and Quebec (Canadian) and second-place Cleveland, San Diego and Toronto were in. The Mariners and Aeros had claimed their titles several weeks before, while the Nordiques waited until the last week to edge out the Toros. West Division teams Phoenix and Minnesota were the wild cards.
HORSE RACING—PROMISED CITY ($10.40), David Whited riding, won the 1‚⅛-mile $100,000-added Arkansas Derby for 3-year-olds by half a length over Bold Chapeau, at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. The winning time was 1:51[4/5].
Singh ($2.80), Angel Cordero up, and LARAMIE TRAIL ($6.60), Mike Venezia riding, won the two divisions of another 3-year-old test, the one-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. Singh bested Round Stake by 2½ lengths in 1:37, while Laramie Trail defeated Lefty by a length in 1:38.
MOTOR SPORTS—Forty-year-old A.J. FOYT collected the 50th US AC title of his career by winning the Trenton (N.J.) 200, averaging 154.625 mph and collected $11,937 for the win. Foyt set a track record at the International Speedway, covering the distance in 1:17:59.
STEEPLECHASING—L'ESCARGOT, a 12-year-old gelding owned by former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Raymond J. Guest, won the 114th running of the Grand National by 15 lengths over Red Rum, in Aintree, England. The victory was worth $91,200.
SWIMMING—Fourteen-year-old JENNY TURRALL of Australia set a world record of 8:43.48 in the women's 800-meter freestyle at the Coca-Cola Games in London.
TENNIS—CHRIS EVERT won $40,000 by defeating Martina Navratilova 6-4, 6-2 in the finals of the $150,000 Virginia Slims tournament in Los Angeles (page 24).
TRACK a FIELD—JIM BOLDING, world-record holder in the 440-yard hurdles, won his specialty in 49.9 at the Texas Relays in Austin (page 76). PAUL CUMMINGS of BYU ran the mile in 3:59.8, and world-record holder DAVE ROBERTS took the pole vault (18'1").
Brian Oldfield of San Jose put the shot 72'6½" to break his world professional indoor mark by 9½" at an ITA meet in San Francisco. The distance exceeded George Woods' amateur record (72'2¾") as well as Al Feuerbach's amateur world outdoor record (71'7"). In the 50-meter hurdles LEON COLEMAN handed Rod Milburn his first pro loss with a 6.4 clocking.
MILEPOSTS—ELECTED: BOB McADOO, Buffalo Braves center, as the NBA's Most Valuable Player by his fellow players. The 6'10" McAdoo averaged 34.5 points per game this season to lead the league in scoring for the second straight year.
NAMED: GENE BARTOW, 44, as head basketball coach at UCLA, replacing John Wooden, who ended four decades of coaching after the Bruins took their 10th NCAA title in 12 years. Bartow was released from the remaining four years of his five-year contract at Illinois, where his team had gone 8-18 last season. From 1970-74 he coached Memphis State, compiling an 82-32 record.
NAMED: JUDITH R. HOLLAND, Sacramento State's director of women's athletics for the last six years, as the first director of women's intercollegiate sports at UCLA. The original nominee, Micki King of the Air Force Academy, resigned the position for "personal reasons" before taking office.
RETIRED: San Francisco Giant Pitcher RON BRYANT, 27, after five seasons and a 57-55 record. A Cy Young Award winner in 1973, when he had a 24-12 mark, Bryant was 3-15 last season.
DIED: HAROLD M. OSBORN, 75, gold medalist in the high jump and decathlon at the 1924 Olympics and silver medalist in the high jump in 1928; in Champaign, Ill.