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Original Issue

Sports Beat

Did an NBA referee introduce Michael Jordan to Karla Knafel, the
ex-lover he is suing for extortion? In a countersuit filed by
Knafel she says she was working as a singer in an Indianapolis
hotel in 1989 when Eddie F. Rush, then a rookie NBA ref, started
a conversation. This led to the subject of Jordan, who was in
town with the Bulls to play the Pacers. "Mr. Rush told Karla that
he personally knew Jordan," her suit says. "To prove it, he
telephoned Jordan at Jordan's Indianapolis hotel room and
introduced him to Karla over the phone. Karla and Jordan then
chatted for a while." The NBA refused to make Rush available to
SI for comment but said it is investigating the allegation of
fraternization. "It's something we discourage, for obvious
reasons," says NBA spokesman Tim Frank.

Here's a relationship that has legs: the Red Sox' far-ranging
shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and striking U.S. soccer star Mia
Hamm are engaged. Sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday
Garciaparra proposed on bended knee (in case Hamm took a bad hop,
perhaps), thus confirming speculation that began in October when
a Boston jeweler reported that Garciaparra, 29, had been checking
out a five-carat rock worth more than $50,000. The pair first met
four years ago when Hamm, now 30, schooled Garciaparra in a
celebrity penalty-kick shootout at Harvard. They've been
inseparable ever since Hamm divorced Marine helicopter pilot
Christiaan Corry last fall.

Picasso famously thrilled restaurateurs by dashing off drawings
on napkins and tablecloths, and now another revolutionary artist
has adopted the practice. Muhammad Ali was in Manhattan last
Friday to promote Muhammad Ali, the Greatest, a one-shot magazine
celebrating his career. After posing for photos and signing
autographs at a press conference at Gallagher's Steak House, the
champ sat down and put his Sharpie to more creative use. With a
few quick strokes and jabs of the pen, he produced a cartoon on
the tablecloth depicting two stick-figure fighters in a ring
surrounded by spectators. He labeled one of the fighters frazier,
the other (bigger) one ali, then signed the work with a flourish.
Don't look for the picture on Gallagher's wall, though. It was
immediately claimed by a guy who knows something about the art of
self-defense: Larry Holmes, on hand to support his old foe. "He
didn't draw us," said Holmes. "That's because I beat him."

Figure skater Scott Hamilton, who five years ago was diagnosed
with testicular cancer, has joined with the Cleveland Clinic,
where he received treatment, to launch a website (
The site provides information for patients who've recently
learned they have cancer.

Shoppers on eBay last week could have picked up Madonna's high
school yearbook, a Joe Paterno tie--and the Dartmouth men's and
women's swim teams. EBay item #197609200 was described as a
"once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of NCAA Division I
history" and sought a bid of $211,000, roughly the teams' annual
budget. A bid of $212,099.99 was briefly posted before eBay
pulled the team off the site upon learning it was not being
offered by its owner. The team had been put up for auction by the
boyfriend of sophomore swimmer Jenny Kenkel in support of
Dartmouth's 53 swim team members, whose program was recently cut
for budgetary reasons. "We wanted to raise our own endowment,"
said freshman swimmer Cary Telander. Dartmouth dean James
Larimore said the alternative fund-raising was not in line with
school policy.

COLOR PHOTO: BOB ROSATO (HEISMAN) PICTURE THIS Now this guy's a poser. While the Hurricanes' Heisman hopefuls, Ken Dorsey (300 passing yards, two TDs) and Willis McGahee (205 rushing yards, six TDs), made their cases at the Orange Bowl in Miami's 56--45 win over Virginia Tech last Saturday, this Midas-touched helmet-head brought award fever into the stands. Wonder if he has a trophy wife. The real Heisman will be presented on Dec. 14.




A Buccaneers fan has purchased season tickets in four sections of
Raymond James Stadium so that he can watch each quarter from a
different angle.


Lakers center, on solving the team's on-court problems: "I just
want eight guys out there with me who want to play."