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Original Issue

The Beat

IT'S IMPORTANT for an expansion team to make its fans feel loved, but Charlotte Bobcats backers looking to buy tickets last week might have felt the team was going a little overboard. Customers who dialed the phone number in an ad for tickets the team took out in the local white pages were instead connected to a phone sex line. The team has been working with the phone company to reroute would-be ticket buyers to the team's main number. "We certainly apologize to any of our fans who have been inconvenienced by this," said Chris Weiller, the team's V.P. of corporate affairs.

■ He hung out with Tom Cruise after a Real Madrid game last week, and now David Beckham has announced he'll be entering Cruise's field--by taking a role in a $100 million trilogy of movies about the beautiful game. Conveniently the novice actor will be portraying a soccer player. In the first installment, called Goal!, which will be released in August, Becks will be joined on screen by Real Madrid teammate Zinedine Zidane. The films chronicle the life of an East L.A. prodigy played by Diego Luna.

■ The Yankees are still hurting, but nothing eases the pain of an ALCS implosion like a few stops on the fall banquet circuit. Last Thursday, Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter--along with überfan Billy Crystal and James Taylor--showed up at the Pierre hotel in New York City for a dinner to benefit Joe Torre's Safe At Home Foundation, which raises money to fight domestic violence. Torre joked that he was tempted to dress up as Johnny Damon for Halloween "because he scared the hell out of me." Nastier one-liners were the order of the day last Saturday, when Torre was in the crowd at a celebrity roast of former bench coach Don Zimmer at Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino. "They say you can tell the character of a man by those who attend your funeral," joked former Dodgers skipper Tommy Lasorda. "Well, look around here tonight."

■ What is a cool dude like Freddy Adu doing with a guy best known for wearing suspenders and geeky specs? Actually, D.C. United's 15-year-old star had dinner last week with Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel on the sitcom Family Matters, to get some advice on growing up famous. The idea came from Trevor Moawad, who works for IMG, the agency that represents Adu. He knew White (right)--now a 27-year-old screenwriter and one of the few successful child actors to reach adulthood without a major meltdown--and thought Whiteand Adu might have more in common than wearing short pants. So Moawad set up the dinner when United was in Los Angeles for the MLS Cup. White gave Adu advice on such topics as buying his first car and the importance of reading the newspaper. "Very few people can relate to being a star and having adults handing you things at such a young age," says Moawad, who brought White to Sunday's MLS title game (page 143). "Jaleel told Freddy that as long as he keeps up the quality of his work, everything else will still be there in the long haul." ... It has been 15 years since Reebok first got Dee Brown and Boomer Esiason to pump up their shoes, and now, with the help of a genuine rocket scientist, the sneaker manufacturer is adding some space-age technology to the kicks. Last week in New York City, Tiki Barber, Jamal Crawford and Jerome Williams unveiled the new laceless Pump 2.0, which molds to the shape of the wearer's foot. "Not to bore everyone with physics," says designer Bill McInnis, a former NASA engineer, "but.... "--sorry we kind of zoned out for the rest of the quote. The $100 shoes are now in stores.


Upset at a call, the chairman of a Moldovan soccer team drove his car onto the pitch and tried to run over the referee.

They Said It JIM BATES

Dolphins interim coach, on how his new gig is different from his last head coaching job, with the USFL San Antonio Gunslingers in 1985: "I know I'm going to get paid this time."




New Englanders have never been so happy to see a guy in a Patriots jersey on crutches. Curt Schilling, fresh off ankle surgery--you may have heard he was injured--and Johnny Damon were part of a Red Sox contingent that brought the World Series trophy to Gillette Stadium on Sunday. After a pregame ceremony, the Sox watched the Pats continue their quest for more championship hardware by crushing the Bills 29--6.