Basketball's `Whopper' has whale of record in sight; Jordan commercially hot

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

At this point, fans probably know basketball's Billy Paultz more for his nickname, ``The Whopper,'' than his playing credentials. His fast-food eating habits earned him the nickname in college. Now, years later, he could tie a pro basketball record by playing in yet another post-season playoff. He has already surpassed such 13-year men as Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, and now seeks to catch Dolph Schayes, whose 15 playoff appearances are the record.

Utah is not enjoying a particularly good year, yet the Jazz would be the seventh of eight teams to qualify for the National Basketball Association's Western Conference playoffs were they to start tomorrow.

Since coming into pro basketball from St. John's University in 1970, Paultz, has seen post-season action 14 straight seasons. The only time he's been on a championship team, however, was in 1974-75 as a member of the Julius Erving-led New York Nets of the old American Basketball Association. The next season, while wearing a San Antonio Spurs uniform in the ABA's last season, he led the league in blocked shots.

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Now playing for his fifth team, Paultz, 36, is the second oldest NBA player behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the Los Angeles Lakers and one of only about a dozen ABAers still in uniform. Billy fills it out pretty well, too, at 6 ft. 11 in. and 255 lbs. Unlike Abdul-Jabbar, however, he doesn't see much playing time anymore. As a sub for 7-4 Mark Eaton, he averages only 6 minutes a game.

Michael Jordan, the exciting rookie of basketball's Chicago Bulls, has a unique mannerism. His tongue pops out while making some of his most spectacular moves. Is it any wonder, then, that ProServ, the firm handling his business interests, sees potential for ice cream, candy, and U.S. Postal Service endorsements?

An exciting player with a clean-cut, likeable image, Jordan is already one of the most marketable athletes in pro sports. His $2.5 million, five-year contract with Nike has turned heads, as have the flashy red, black, and white ``Air Jordan'' basketball shoes the company is test marketing. The $65 high-top sneakers, which were going like hotcakes in Lexington, Ky. during the recent college championships, will hit the national market in July.

Wilson Sporting Goods is coming out with a Jordan-autographed basketball, and in a trade-off for his work with McDonald's in North Carolina, the company has awarded him a franchise, which his parents run.

Until Tuesday night's loss to Milwaukee, the Boston Celtics were bidding to become the first team in NBA history to complete the regular season without back-to-back losses. Playing without Larry Bird, Cedric Maxwell, and Danny Ainge, the Celtics lost to the Bucks 109-103 on the heels of a Sunday defeat to Detroit.

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