NBA Begins to Look North of the Border

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A GROUP charged with studying National Basketball Association expansion is looking favorably toward Canada, the league reports. While this is in keeping with the current spirit of North American free trade, the NBA has never been prohibited from crossing the northern border of the United States. In fact, the league's very first game was played in Toronto - between the Toronto Huskies and the New York Knicks.

The Huskies lasted only one year, but a group in Toronto, the location of next year's world basketball championships, wants a team again. The group has submitted the only formal application for a new expansion franchise, according to Brian McIntyre, the league's vice president of public relations.

Unlike the National Hockey League, which now has 16 United States-based franchises, the NBA has retained an exclusively American character.

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Informally, St. Louis and Cincinnati, which had franchises but lost them more than two decades ago, have expressed interest in getting back into the league, McIntyre reports. Meanwhile, Anaheim, Calif.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg, Fla., have indicated they'd like to become NBA locales.

The league probably won't add any new franchises until the 1995-96 season. Beijing's Olympic strategy

Maybe it was only a coincidence, but the recent release of Chinese dissidents jailed since the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations seems curiously well timed. Beijing, which has a delegation at an international Olympic meeting in Atlanta this week, is trying to woo the Olympics that begin the next century. The country's poor civil rights record, though, is viewed as a strike against Beijing. Site selection is scheduled for Sept. 23 in Monte Carlo, and perhaps the release of of three pro-democracy protes ters will curry favor with Olympic officials.

A countervailing factor that could doom Beijing's bid is the air of suspicion that surrounds its women swimmers. Their sudden emergence at last year's Barcelona Olympics was reminiscent of the overnight success of the East German women's swimming team at the 1976 Games in Montreal. Some find the parallels with the East Germans, who used so-called "performance-enhancing" drugs, too striking to ignore. That the Chinese have hired coaches and trainers from the former East Germany only adds to these suspicio ns, as does the failure of China's men swimmers to achieve a matching leap in performance. Has the Pentagon heard about this?

Last Friday's Monitor carried an interview with Bob Knight, Indiana University's noted basketball coach. Because of space limitations, some of his conversation with Bob Hammel never made it into print. One unpublished response worth sharing was a startling comment Knight made about the pay cut he took upon leaving West Point for Indiana in 1971.

"The challenge of coaching at this level was why I left that to come here, for about half of what I was getting at Army," he said. "I always figured money could be made; if you do a good job, you're going to be in demand to do things." Three national championships later, of course, there's no question his decision has been richly rewarded in numerous ways. Given current discussions about military spending cuts, though, it is interesting that West Point, a perennial nonpower in basketball, once paid its b asketball coach significantly more than a major state university sitting in the nation's hoop heartland. Volleyball hits makeshift beach in Big Apple

Over the years Madison Square Garden in New York has housed just about every conceivable kind of sports event. It added a new one last month, when beach volleyball was sandwiched in between an ice show and an indoor track meet. A decent-size crowd of 7,000 turned out to watch two-a-side teams compete on 10 truckloads of sand. This variation on real volleyball has caught on well enough outdoors to support a March-to-October pro circuit. Indoors, however, it's hard to imagine it becoming more than a novelt y - a pleasing change of pace for beach-dreaming northerners.

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