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Original Issue

The Beat

Mr. Fantastic.The Human Torch. Both adequate handles for Magic Johnson in his heyday. The Invisible Woman or The Thing? Not so much. The former Lakers great recently played one-on-one against each of the aforementioned superheroes for an NBA TV spot that premieres this weekend and ties in with the movie The Fantastic Four, which opens on July 8. Johnson's foes--including Jessica Alba (left), who plays The Invisible Woman--all displayed impressive court skills, but the unscripted games tended to be grind-'em-out affairs. "When you have a superhero playing basketball against superheroes," says Scott Weinstock, an NBA exec on set for filming, "it can be pretty hard to score." Another thing that made it hard to score: the giant Thing costume that actor Michael Chiklis was wearing. Nonetheless, Chiklis--a die-hard Celtics fan--fulfilled a fantasy when he drained a three on Magic.

When Jay-Z hung up his mike, who knew he'd be such a good sport? The retired rapper and part owner of the New Jersey Nets has visited the Illinois locker room at the Final Four and partied on draft night with NFL draftees Braylon Edwards, Cedric Benson and Antrel Rolle at the Manhattan nightspot he co-owns, The 40/40 Club. Last week he made a musical comeback of sorts, coproducing a remake of his 2001 hit Takeover. The new version, performed by the rap group Young Gunz, features retooled lyrics like "N-E-T-S, New Jersey's best/Watch out, we run the league." Make that ran the league--the Nets were swept out of the playoffs on Sunday.

Erica Salmon has discovered every girl's fantasy--and it has nothing to do with Dwyane Wade, the Miami Heat guard who last week was named one of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People. Salmon, the 30-year-old wife of a Rotisserie football addict from Pitman, N.J., created the Fantasy Fashion League (, a femme-friendly roto game in which participants draft and track fashion designers instead of athletes. Salmon, who spent three years as assistant manager of her husband's fantasy football team, The Bulldogs, has devised a system in which points are awarded when a designer's creations appear on a magazine cover or a celebrity's body. "Giorgio Armani looks to be the Priest Holmes pick of this year," she says.

Two schools were fined $1,000 each last week for their roles in a flashback moment to the WWF's glory days. It happened at the North Carolina western regional wrestling championship when South Mecklenburg High's Colby Harden, 17, celebrated his win by imitating Ric Flair's old victory strut. Harden's vanquished opponent was Flair's son Reid Fliehr, 17, who wrestles for Charlotte Providence High. Fliehr did not take kindly to the dig at Flair père, tackling Harden, briefly knocking him unconscious and sparking a battle royale as teammates from both schools and a swarm of spectators charged the mat. Fliehr, whose mother, Beth, says he has heard taunts since he started wrestling at age four, was kicked out of the tournament. He faces a charge of simple assault and is due in court on May 23.

They Said It


Kings coach (left), complaining that Seattle forward Reggie Evans (right) was flopping during their playoff series: "He goes down when the air conditioning comes on."


A New Jersey town repealed its three-decade ban on males older than 12 wearing Speedos.




It's a little-known fact that the American buffalo is not on the verge of extinction. It just seems that way because they're all off playing tennis. Actually, these nine bison escaped from a farm in Pikesville, Md., and were herded by police--who decided not to press roaming charges--onto a tennis court in an upscale neighborhood for safekeeping. The animals no doubt would have preferred a grass court.