Otis Birdsong, an outstanding guard with pro basketball's New Jersey Nets, has already guaranteed himself a spot in the Basketball Hall of Fame - as a benefactor. Not long ago he presented a $10,000 check to the Springfield, Mass. , shrine. The contribution marked the first substantial contribution made by a player to a $2.5 million campaign to build a new hall. Birdsong isn't really trying to buy a niche among the game's greats. His agent, attorney Bob Woolf, encouraged the donation for tax purposes and as a gesture of magnanimity that many of today's high-salaried players could well afford. ''Otis has gotten an awful lot of good copy from this,'' says Hall of Fame director Lee Williams, who indicates Woolf is recommending that other clients such as Darrell Griffith and Joe Barry Carroll follow Birdsong's example.
* Don't be surprised if quarterback Bert Jones winds up with the Los Angeles Rams next season. He became totally alienated with the Colts organization as Baltimore suffered through a 2-14 season in 1981. The Rams, of course, are desperate to solve their quarterbacking problem, and Jones still has the arm to make any team a winner -- given the right set of circumstances. With the second overall pick in the draft, the Colts could snatch up Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter, since New England, with the first selection, is almost sure to choose Texas defensive lineman Kenneth Sims.
* Talk about a marathon! Cincinnati beat Bradley in college basketball's longest game recently, a seven-overtime job that was almost two games in one. The contest lasted 75 minutes (a regular game is 40 minutes), and wasn't decided until Cincy's Doug Schloemer hit the game-winning shot with two seconds left in the final OT. The game actually lapped over into the next day, ending 3 hours, 15 minutes from the opening tip-off at 12:20 a.m.