Ever wonder what happened to Sidney Wicks, the sensational UCLA forward whose pro career started off fast a decade ago and lost speed thereafter? At last report Wicks was playing in Italy, where each pro team is allowed two foreigners on its roster.
A member of three national championship teams, Wicks was one of the finest collegiate forwards ever and seemingly a can't-miss pro prospect in the early 1970s. His best National Basketball Association season was his first, when he averaged a career-high 24.5 points a game and was the league's 1971-72 Rookie of the Year. From there his scoring average declined steadily, finally hitting a low of 6.7 playing for San Diego in 1980-81, when he was dropped by the Clippers midway through the season.
What prevented Wicks from scaling the heights in the National Basketball Association is a mystery. Some observers believe his years on the lowly Portland Trail Blazers were detrimental to his attitude and playing skills. Both Portland and Boston won championships after he was traded.
If it means anything, playing in Europe is not the dead end it may seem. Spencer Haywood, who was a teammate of Wicks last year in Venice, and Jeff Ruland, who played in Spain, both returned to the NBA this season and helped Washington make the playoffs. Considered a has-been in some quarters, Haywood was the league's comeback story of the year.
How do you know when an author strikes it rich? When he first writes a bestseller, next pens a sequel, then follows up with a book entitled ''Jackpot.'' This is exactly what James Fixx has done. Up until the publication of ''The Complete Book of Running'' five years ago, Fixx was an uncelebrated magazine editor (McCall's, The Saturday Review, Life) from Riverside, Conn. But then he timed his swing at the burgeoning running market like a crack hitter might stride into waist-high fastball. Home run!
Inspired to write about his longstanding hobby, Fixx produced a book that garnered $580,000 in royalties after just five months. Suddenly, this ''quite ordinary person'' (his own description) was being flown to Paris to film an American Express ad, endorsing a granola cereal, and appearing on talk shows. Now in his newest book, Fixx chronicles the events that skyrocketed him to fame and fortune. Random House is selling the journal for $12.50, hoping, of course, to hit the jackpot.
Pro football tidbits
* The National Football League has long prided itself on well-rooted franchises. But now that Al Davis has won court approval to move the Oakland Raiders to Los Angeles, other clubs might someday follow suit. The Cardinals were the last NFL team to change cities, moving from Chicago to St. Louis in 1960.
* Cleveland fans are bound to be pretty demanding of Tom Cousineau next fall. A linebacker who's preparing to make a heralded debut in the National Football League after playing three years in Canada, Cousineau will reportedly make more money than the Browns' entire starting defensive unit did last season.
* San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts has been honored by the National Right to Work Committee. Fouts's refusal to pay his 1981 dues to the National Football League Players Association ultimately threatened labor strife if his employer didn't suspend him. Neither Fouts nor the Chargers knuckled under, but a San Diego insurance man stepped forward to pay the $1,122 due the union. Fouts, who still doesn't consider himself an NFLPA member, claims philosophical differences with the union's leadership.
Cosmos bait the hook
Whatever soccer fervor formerly surrounded the New York Cosmos has dissipated. The team is still the perennial attendance leader in the North American Soccer League, but no longer attracts the headline-making crowds it did several years ago. In an apparent effort to remedy this situation, the Cosmos are going all out to promote Sunday's game against the Chicago Sting.Playing on the revenge motif, the club has run a newspaper ad with star forward Giorgio Chinaglia, a comic-strip balloon caption overhead, saying, ''Watch us get even.'' The Sting beat New York in last season's Soccer Bowl championship game. If the spectre of squaring the score doesn't excite the fans, maybe giving away 15,000 pairs of Cosmos socks or holding an open autograph session with the players will.
Free throw marksman
Over the past winter, UCLA had a basketball season best forgotten. The Bruins were on probation for breaking a number of NCAA regulations and ineligible for post-season play. If there was a bright note, it was revealed in the NCAA's recent statistical summary. Guard Rod Foster's 95 percent free throw accuracy (95 of 100) is unsurpassed by any collegian in history, and by only one pro, Houston's Calvin Murphy, who was .958 from the line a year ago. Ironically , Foster's free throw mastery coincided with a slump from the field. Rod was benched until he rediscovered his shooting eye. Even so, his field goal percentage fell off considerably from what it had been his first two college seasons, from .529 to .462.