PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: With several old stars in new lineups, season openers were largely get-acquainted affairs. The Los Angeles Lakers introduced Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who scored 27 points and had 20 rebounds in a 104-101 victory over the New York Knicks despite a 21-point game from Knick Guard Walt Frazier that made him the team's alltime leading scorer. Next game, while beating Cleveland's Cavaliers 100-91, the Knicks unveiled newly acquired Forward Spencer Haywood (page 77). The getting-to-know-you action extended to the 76ers, with George McGinnis, and the Boston Celtics, with Charlie Scott, both newcomers contributing to opening-game wins. Guard Dave Bing felt comfy in his new Bullets backcourt, hitting 19 points on his own and passing off to Elvin Hayes, who scored 29, in a 107-95 win over Kansas City. An injured Pete Maravich missed the New Orleans opener, which the Jazz lost to Atlanta 109-91, but came back in their second and third games with 31 points to head up a 114-106 victory over Detroit and 45 points in a double-overtime win against the New York Knicks 125-114. The Chicago Bulls, led by Norm Van Lier's 22 points, held off a late rally by the Milwaukee Bucks to win 91-87. Despite a pro-career high of 33 points from Center Bill Walton, Portland was unable to overpower Phoenix in an 89-88 squeaker. The champion Golden State Warriors got reacquainted with Buffalo's veteran Bob McAdoo, who scored 36 points, had 15 rebounds and blocked seven shots in a 104-92 Brave triumph.
ABA: Nine teams opened the league's ninth season. Last year's champion Kentucky Colonels beat the San Antonio Spurs 100-94, with six men hitting in double figures. The New York Nets were in turn walloped 131-111 by the Spurs, whose sharpest shooters were both ex-Nets; Larry Kenon hit a career-high 38 points and five-year Center Billy Paultz rang up 23. The Denver Nuggets showed off rookie Forward David Thompson, who scored 28 points in a 120-108 victory over San Diego. Indiana won its first two games. With George McGinnis now in the NBA, the Pacers rely on Forward Billy Knight for scoring, and score he did: 36 points in the 112-101 opener over Virginia, with all but 10 coming in the second half, then 40 as Indiana defeated Kentucky 103-100.
PRO FOOTBALL—NFL: The Atlanta Falcons lost Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, sidelined with a dislocated elbow in the first period, and went on to lose the game 21-14 to the division-leading and undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. Pittsburgh managed a 16-13 win over Green Bay to hold a tie for second place in the AFC Central, one game behind Cincinnati. Houston stayed even with the Steelers by beating the Detroit Lions 24-8 (page 62). Division-trailing Cleveland could not give rookie Coach Forrest Gregg his first NFL victory, even though the Browns had defeated the Washington Redskins the last 12 times in a row. This time, rookie Running Back Mike Thomas gained 124 yards in 27 carries and scored twice to bolster the Redskins' 23-7 win. Dallas remained one game ahead of Washington and St. Louis in the NFC East after a last-second 20-yard field goal by Toni Fritsch beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-17. St. Louis kept pace with Washington by beating the New York Giants 20-13. In the AFC East, Miami scrambled back from a 23-14 halftime deficit to beat the Buffalo Bills 35-30 and take the divisional lead. Baltimore downed the New York Jets 45-28, leaving both clubs with 2-4 records. The New England Patriots won their second game in a row, but lost the services of Quarterback Jim Plunkett, who re-injured his left shoulder. Rookie Quarterback Steve Grogan stepped in, leading the Patriots to two touchdowns and a 24-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. Oakland sat alone atop the AFC West after blanking the San Diego Chargers for the second time this season, this one 25-0. Kansas City and Denver shared 3-3 records after the Chiefs beat the Broncos 26-13 in revenge for a loss in the season's opener. Los Angeles pulled farther away from the rest of the NFC West with a 38-14 trouncing of the New Orleans Saints.
GOLF—MARY BEA PORTER won the Ladies Classic at San Diego's Whispering Palms Country Club with a five-under-par 287, scoring her first tour victory by three strokes over veteran Donna C. Young.
HOCKEY—NHL: The undefeated Buffalo Sabres dominated the Adams Division with an eighth-straight win, 3-2, over California. Montreal's Canadiens had a week of three victories for the second time this season, moving into first place in the Norris Division with a 7-1 lashing of Pittsburgh. Elsewhere in the division, wins were harder to come by: Washington getting its first over Chicago 7-5, and Detroit still seeking its first. Chicago Goalie Tony Esposito registered his second shutout of the season, blanking the Kansas City Scouts 4-0, as did Islander Goalie Chico Resch, 3-0, against the Patrick Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers. The New York Rangers also lost, 7-1, to the surging Islanders, as the brothers Potvin each scored twice. Pittsburgh almost caught Philadelphia asleep, gaining a tie after trailing 4-0 halfway into the second period.
WHA: Although Winnipeg superstar Left Wing Bobby Hull went on strike, his Jets beat the Denver Spurs 5-2. He was protesting the sport's increasing violence. Before his exit, Hull played in a 7-0 shutout of Cincinnati, helping Goalie Joe Daley record his second shutout of the season, and the Jets remained atop the Canadian division. The Houston Aeros, last year's WHA champions, suffered two more losses and trail in the West. Indianapolis snapped a five-game losing streak at Houston's expense with a 4-0 shutout. In the East, the Cincinnati Stingers, a first-year franchise, gained sole possession of first place by defeating Edmonton 6-4 and Houston 7-4.
HORSE RACING—GROUP PLAN ($14.40), Jorge Velasquez up, surged past 3-to-10 favorite Wajima to win the two-mile Jockey Club Gold Cup by a neck at Belmont Park. The 5-year-old's time over a sloppy track was 3:23[1/5].
Jorge Velasquez, this time atop SNOW KNIGHT ($9.40), won the Canadian International championship over the 1‚Öù-mile course at Woodbine, by half a length over Comtesse De Loir. The time was 2:43[1/5].
PAN-AMERICAN GAMES—The U.S. wrapped up the competition in Mexico City (page 68) with 245 medals—115 gold, 83 silver and 47 bronze—followed by Cuba with 135, its highest total ever, and Canada with 94. American swimmers and divers collected 29 of a possible 33 golds, with two women, Kathy Heddy, 17, of Summit, N.J., and Kim Peyton, 18, of Portland, Ore. winning four each. Camille Wright, 20, of New Albany, Ind., won three golds and Steve Furniss, of Santa Ana, Calif., won two. Ann Carr, 18-year-old gymnast from Philadelphia, won four golds. In team competition, both U.S. basketball squads triumphed, the men clinching the title with an 84-78 win over Cuba for a 9-0 record, and the women routing Colombia 74-48, for 7-0. The Cubans retained the baseball title with an 8-0 record that included a 4-3 defeat of the U.S. In the ring, U.S. boxers won three of 11 golds.
TENNIS: ROD LAVER claimed first prize at the World Invitational Tennis Classic by winning four matches in the five-day tourney at Hilton Head, S.C. ILIE NASTASE had beaten Laver 5-7, 7-6, 6-4 to win the singles title and CHRIS EVERT, who placed second overall, won her 19th straight clay court singles title, crushing Evonne Goolagong 6-1, 6-1.
MILEPOSTS—FILED: By the other seven of the nine American Basketball Association teams; applications for membership in the National Basketball Association at the start of the 1976-77 season. The New York Nets and Denver Nuggets had already requested entry. NBA Commissioner Larry O'Brien "suspended" any action, citing the five-year-old court injunction barring a merger of the two leagues.
FOLDED: The WORLD FOOTBALL LEAGUE, after completing slightly over half of its second year, citing financial troubles caused by poor attendance (a slump of 28% in the last five weeks); lack of national television exposure and revenues; and inability to overcome the backlash from the league's disastrous first season.
RETIRED: From the Edmonton Oilers, JACQUES PLANTE, 47, from 1952 to 1973 goaltender in the NHL and, since then, in the WHA. He won the Vezina Trophy as best goalie a record seven times, became only the fourth goalie to win the Hart Trophy as most valuable player, and was a seven-time All-Star.
SIGNED: By the New York Knicks, SPENCER HAYWOOD, 26, center-forward for the Seattle SuperSonics, in exchange for Eugene Short, New York's 1975 first-round draft choice, and a reported $1.5 million to be paid over three years. In his five NBA seasons, the 6'9" Haywood has been an All-Star and averaged 24.9 per game (page 77).
DIED: TOM PATE, 23, a linebacker for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, after suffering a head injury in a game against Calgary. Pate, a 1975 University of Nebraska graduate and defensive end, led the Huskers with 14 tackles in Nebraska's 13-10 Sugar Bowl victory over Florida in 1974.