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Gregg Popovich, the Spurs' coach-G.M., denies reports that he's
looking to rejoin former boss and current Mavericks G.M. Don
Nelson by taking the Dallas coaching job next season. "I'm not
going anywhere," says Popovich, who was Nellie's top assistant
with the Warriors from May 1992 to May 1994. "The only question
for me is whether I'm going to coach this team next year or step
aside." Popovich is no fool. With All-Stars David Robinson and
Sean Elliott expected to be fully recovered from their injuries
and with a little luck in the lottery (Wake Forest's Tim Duncan
or Utah's Keith Van Horne would fit nicely), San Antonio should
be back among the Western Conference elite next season....

New Jersey's attempt to showcase guard Jimmy Jackson (25.4
points over the past five games) for an off-season trade has all
but killed Kerry Kittles's chance of winning Rookie of the Year.
Since Jackson replaced Kittles as the starting 2 guard, the
rookie is averaging 13.6 points (down from 15.5) on 37.9%
shooting, and his playing time has dropped by nearly seven
minutes a game....

Jazz president Frank Layden is coy about Utah's hopes for an NBA
title. "People ask me all the time, 'Are the Jazz good enough to
win the championship?' I tell them no," says Layden. "It's
better to surprise people than to disappoint them."...

With 2.68 steals per game through Sunday, Hawks guard Mookie
Blaylock is about to swipe the NBA steals crown from reigning
champ Gary Payton of the Sonics (2.42 this season). Payton
recently called Blaylock "the best one-on-one defender in the

The return of Heat guard Dan Majerle from back surgery means
that 6'4", 205-pound guard Voshon Lenard, who is averaging 12.2
points per game, will head back to the bench. Majerle, at 6'6"
and 220, gives the Heat a bigger body to guard tall Eastern
Conference guards such as 6'6" Michael Jordan, 6'7" Penny
Hardaway and 6'8" Steve Smith....

Rockets forward Charles Barkley, who seems to talk about
retirement every season and has missed 50 games in the past
three seasons with various injuries, now says he expects to play
into the next century. "Probably three or four more years," says
the Chuckster....

With Hornets forward Anthony Mason sidelined and guard Dell
Curry at less than 100% last week, 37-year-old Ricky Pierce,
acquired in a Feb. 20 trade with Denver, stepped into the
starting lineup and scored 16 and 19 points in wins over the
Hawks and the Nets, respectively. "I say a prayer every night
thanking God that we got him," says Charlotte coach Dave

Rockets backup center Charles Jones, 40, came off injured
reserve on March 31 and saw his first action in more than two
months in Houston's 116-99 victory over Denver on April 1. He
played four games in January before going on IR, meaning that a
Jones brother--Wil, Caldwell, Major or Charles--has played in an
NBA game every calendar year since 1976. All four brothers
attended Albany (Ga.) State, where they were coached by another
brother, Oliver....

Before the red-hot Blazers, who had won 14 of 16 games, hosted
woeful Golden State at the Rose Garden on April Fools' Day,
Portland coach P.J. Carlesimo said his players hadn't "even come
close to crossing the line" of overconfidence. The next night
the Warriors upset Portland 91-82.

COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK Blaylock (far left) has established himself as the NBA's leading ball-Hawk. [Mookie Blaylock stripping basketball from opposing player]




Magic center Rony Seikaly is one of the NBA's most cosmopolitan
players. Born in Beirut and raised in Athens, he has traveled
all over the world--often in search of a sunny beach. Here are
his favorite places outside the U.S. for soaking up rays.

1 Mikonos, in the Greek Islands
2 Saint-Tropez, France
3 Bali, Indonesia
4 Beirut, Lebanon
5 Porto Cervo, Sardinia