PRO BASKETBALL—When Julius Erving was traded by the New York Nets to the 76ers in a deal worth at least $6.5 million, enthusiastic Philadelphians predicted an 82-0 record and sportswriters made ominous predictions about the league becoming "unbalanced." By the end of last week, the 76ers were 18-12, had the lowest winning percentage of any of the four division leaders, and were beginning to feel the first rumblings of a multimillion-dollar headache. Erving, who is averaging 19.6 points per game, compared to 29.3 last season, told the Philadelphia Bulletin that he's not getting the ball often enough. "I'm not a water faucet," Erving said. "I can't be turned on and off. I can't go without handling the ball eight or nine times down the court, and then do it." Erving also complained that he and George McGinnis were not being allowed to be leaders. "It's not an easy group of guys to talk with," Dr. J said. In a 127-116 loss to San Antonio, the 76ers committed 34 turnovers and helped the Spurs' Larry Kenon set an NBA record for steals with 11. The next night, Philly lost to Houston 93-91, and it wasn't until Erving's return to New York against the Nets that the 76ers won, 139-110. The defeat was costly to the Nets, who also lost to Seattle and Buffalo during the week. All-Star Guard Nate Archibald fractured a bone in his left foot and is expected to be out of action for six weeks. The New York Knicks continued to roll along, defeating Houston 111-99 on Tom McMillen's 31 points, then winning their eighth game in their last 10 outings, a 121-110 defeat of Cleveland. Washington won all three of its games, with Elvin Hayes scoring 31 points in a 117-111 victory over Indiana and 32 in a 104-89 defeat of Houston. Bob Lanier scored 40 points in Detroit's 120-111 defeat of Portland, then began talking about taking some time off like Dave Cowens. Milwaukee beat Golden State 113-102 and Portland 127-107 for its fifth win in six games. Portland came out of a rough week with a one-game lead over Los Angeles in the Pacific Division. The Trail Blazers beat Chicago 84-79—with Bill Walton scoring 29 points and grabbing 19 rebounds—then lost to Detroit 120-111 and Milwaukee before beating Chicago again 89-82.
BOXING—GUTY ESPADAS of Mexico retained his WBA flyweight title in Tokyo with a TKO of Japan's Jiro Takada. Espadas knocked the challenger down in the third round, closed his left eye in the sixth and the fight was stopped in the seventh.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—The season ended with the usual glut of bowl games, parades and pageantry—and very little speculation about which team deserved to be ranked No. 1 in the nation. PITTSBURGH wrapped up the national title with its 27-3 drubbing of Georgia in the Sugar Bowl (page 14). Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett rushed for 202 yards in 32 carries for a Sugar Bowl record. USC clinched No. 2 with a 14-6 defeat of Michigan in the Rose Bowl (page 14). Quarterback Vince Evans led the Trojans by hitting 14 of 20 passes for 181 yards. HOUSTON upset previously unbeaten Maryland 30-21 in the Cotton Bowl, and OHIO STATE broke a two-game losing streak in postseason games by defeating Colorado 27-10 in the Orange Bowl. KENTUCKY routed North Carolina 21-0 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. Sophomore Running Back Rod Stewart gained 104 yards in 19 carries for the Wildcats—20 yards more than North Carolina's total rushing offense. NEBRASKA slipped by Texas Tech 27-24 in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston; NOTRE DAME beat Penn State 20-9 at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. TEXAS A&M defeated Florida 37-14 in the Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas; and the WEST beat the East 30-14 in the Shrine Bowl at Palo Alto, Calif.
HOCKEY—NHL: Philadelphia continued to rip through the rest of the league, extending its unbeaten streak to 20 games with a 7-2 victory over Cleveland. The Flyers, who had opened a five-point spread on the New York Islanders in the Patrick Division race, also got a shutout from Goalie Wayne Stephenson in a 2-0 defeat of Los Angeles. The Kings continued to lose ground to Montreal in the Norris Division race, dropping an 8-3 decision to Minnesota—the North Stars' first win since Nov. 27—before pounding Boston 5-2. That win marked the first time Los Angeles had defeated Bruin Goalie Gerry Cheevers in 19 tries stretching back to 1967. The Bruins beat Vancouver 8-1, getting a hat trick from Peter McNab. Buffalo kept challenging the Bruins for the top spot in the Adams Division with its ninth consecutive win, a 6-3 victory over Atlanta. But later in the week, Pittsburgh ended the Sabres' streak with a 6-3 setback. Cleveland strengthened its hold on last place in the Adams by losing all three of its games. Colorado ended a nine-game winless string with a 3-1 defeat of Washington; the Capitals also lost to the New York Rangers and Toronto, falling 36 points behind Montreal. Pittsburgh had a 3-3 deadlock with the Canadiens, but Montreal players complained bitterly that Ron Schock kicked the tying goal into the net. St. Louis had to settle for a 4-4 tie with the Islanders after building a 4-0 lead; the Blues led the Smythe Division by seven points over Chicago after their 3-1 win against Minnesota.
January 10, 1977
WHA: Quebec and San Diego solidified their leads, Quebec opening a seven-point gap on second-place Indianapolis in the Eastern Division and the Mariners holding an eight-point bulge on Houston in the West. Phoenix, struggling along in last place in the Western Division, beat Indianapolis 4-3 on a goal by Mike Hobin, who had just been brought up from the minors. The Soviet national team played four league teams in a series of exhibition games, and after an opening 5-2 loss to New England, the U.S.S.R. All-Stars defeated Cincinnati 7-5, Houston 10-1 and Indianapolis 5-2. Following the Cincinnati game, Soviet Coach Boris Kulagin charged the Stingers with "bandit style" hockey.
SWIMMING—American LYNNE COX, 19, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, became the first person to swim the Straits of Magellan from Tierra Del Fuego to mainland Chile. She swam the 2.6 miles in 44-degree water in 1:01:02.
TENNIS—TONY ROCHE won the $108,000 New South Wales championship at Sydney, defeating Dick Stockton 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
MILEPOSTS—HONORED: As the NFL's Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year, Baltimore Colts Quarterback BERT JONES. Pittsburgh Middle Linebacker JACK LAMBERT was voted Defensive Player of the Year.
NAMED: As head football coach at the University of Miami, LOU SABAN, 55, to replace Carl Selmer, who was dismissed Dec. 3. Saban quit as coach of the Buffalo Bills, became the athletic director at the University of Cincinnati, only to leave 19 days later.
SUSPENDED: For one year, by Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, Atlanta Braves Owner TED TURNER. In an earlier, related action Turner was penalized for tampering with San Francisco Outfielder Gary Matthews before he was officially a free agent. Despite Turner's suspension the Braves will be able to keep Matthews.
DIED: IVO VAN DAMME, 22, of Belgium, winner of two silver medals at the 1976 Olympics, in an auto accident near Orange, France, two days after being selected his country's Athlete of the Year. Van Damme was second behind Alberto Juantorena in the 800-meter run and was runner-up to John Walker in the 1,500.
DIED: PHILIP H. ISELIN, 74, president of the New York Jets and Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., of a heart attack, in New York City.