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Raptors executive VP Isiah Thomas hung up his Pistons uniform in
'94, but the future Hall of Fame guard is still wheeling and
dealing. Thomas, who owns 9% of the Toronto franchise, has put
together an investment consortium to buy part of majority owner
Allan Slaight's 80% share. If the deal goes
through--negotiations have been heating up since the first of
the year--Thomas would become the first former player to head a
group with controlling interest in an NBA team, a distinction
his pal Magic Johnson, who owns a 5% share of the Lakers, has
craved. "When we were playing, Magic and I and [Thomas's former
Pistons teammate] Mark Aguirre used to talk about someday owning
a team," says Thomas. "Now I have a chance."...Hawks guard Steve
Smith attributes his hot hand over the last eight games (24.0
points on 47.8% shooting) to the healing of a right ankle sprain
that had bothered him most of the season. "For a long time I
could only go to my right, and my opponents knew it," Smith
says....He hasn't resigned or been fired, but Pacers coach Larry
Brown is such a lame duck that he's growing feathers and webbed
feet. Look for assistant coach Bill Blair to get strong
consideration to succeed Brown....When Rockets center Hakeem
Olajuwon was asked last week if he'd heard about the Nets'
back-to-back victories over the Bulls and the Knicks, he
replied, "Of course. That's world news."...Bullets forward Chris
Webber was hitting 51.8% (102 of 197) of his free throws when
shooting coach Buzz Braman was fired along with coach Jim Lynam
on Feb. 5. Since being de-Bramanized, Webber has made 70.2% (40
of 57) from the line....Lakers rookie guard Kobe Bryant, who
went directly from high school to the NBA, says he will go to
summer school at UCLA. He may have to wait until '98 to
matriculate, however: The Lakers want him to play on their
summer league squad this year....After Magic forward Horace
Grant scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and grabbed seven
rebounds in a 100-89 victory over Vancouver on March 16,
Grizzlies coach-G.M. Stu Jackson said, "I don't know what the
Magic are paying Horace Grant, but he's worth every penny." Uh,
Stu, Grant gets $14.9 million this season....Suns guard Jason
Kidd tied a career high with 33 points on 12-of-16 shooting from
the floor (including 8 of 9 from three-point range) in a 116-95
victory over Golden State on March 17. "For somebody who can't
shoot the ball," says Kidd, "that's not bad."...The healthiest
team in the NBA this season has been the Bucks, with only 36
games lost to injury. Makes you wonder how far out of the race
they would be if they hadn't been so lucky....Sonics forward
Shawn Kemp wants to be introduced before games as hailing from
Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind., rather than from Trinity
Valley Community College in Athens, Texas. Kemp went to Trinity
for one year but didn't play basketball there....Knicks forward
Larry Johnson has scored 20 or more points in three of his last
12 games, after having previously reached that mark only three
times all season....The Nets admitted last week that they have
been piping in artificial crowd noise during games this season
at Continental Arena. How else were they going to keep Yinka
Dare awake?

COLOR PHOTO: SAM FORENCICH/NBA PHOTOS A master of the no-look pass, Kidd (32) showed he can be a deadeye shooter, too. [Jason Kidd]




Spurs forward Sean Elliott has been sidelined since Feb. 6 with
tendinitis in his right quadriceps, so he has had plenty of time
to pursue his favorite leisure activity: watching movies. Here
are Elliott's alltime must-miss stinkers, with editorial comments.

1 Showgirls--"Unbelievably bad."
2 Robin Hood: Men in Tights--"A tired comedy."
3 Fair Game--"I like Cindy Crawford, but. ... "
4 Escape from L.A.--"I wanted to leave, but I was afraid someone
would see me."
5 The Crow--"Like a two-hour MTV video."