Saturday 2/8


NBA All-Star Saturday Night

Boosted by the hometown crowd, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Bob
Sura and his 39-inch vertical leap may steal the Slam Dunk
contest from rookies Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers and
Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers. A Sura win would mean a
two-year white-guy stranglehold on the award (the Los Angeles
Clippers' Brent Barry won last year), which could lure Julius
Erving out of retirement. Bryant, also in the Rookie Game, is
making his first appearance at All-Star Weekend. R&B singer
Brandy, Bryant's high school prom date last June, who will
assist in the league's TeamUp Celebration, is making her third.

Sunday 2/9


Villanova at Kentucky

The War of the Wildcats may prove to be an ambush at Rupp Arena:
At week's end Rick Pitino's defending national champs had won 24
straight at their old Kentucky home. Despite having lost senior
guard Derek Anderson for the season to injury (page 38), the
Lexington Cats have been claiming victories by far more than a
whisker. Behind sophomore swingman Ron Mercer, Kentucky was
winning by a nation's-best average of 22.6 points per game.
Villanova is led by 6'9" freshman forward Tim Thomas, who is
vying to succeed last season's star, Kerry Kittles, as the Main
Line Cats' alliterative main man.


NBA All-Star Game

Congratulations, you're an All-Star! Don Pardo, tell him what
he's won. "A trip to Cleveland--in February!" The
scoring-is-down alarmists should be silenced: The last time an
All-Star squad was held below 100 points was in 1973 (East 104,
West 84). With Michael Jordan, Grant Hill and Scottie Pippen,
the East will have the advantage in this open-court forum. The
West will rely heavily on its heavies, Hakeem Olajuwon and
Shaquille O'Neal (right).

Monday 2/10


Westminster Kennel Club

Approximately 2,500 non-toilet-trained animals invade Madison
Square Garden. Hey, just like a Rangers game! The Westminster
canine competition, now in its 121st year, is also the nation's
second-oldest continuous sporting event, behind only the
Kentucky Derby (one year older). Affenpinschers to English sheep
dogs (left) to Yorkshire terriers--153 breeds in all--vie to get
a leg up on one another for Best-In-Show, a prize won by a
Clumber Spaniel for the first time last year. The event (which
concludes Tuesday) is reminiscent of beauty pageants, except
that Westminster announcers are permitted to use the words
glamour bitch.

Wednesday 2/12


Italy at England

"I'm a disgrace," says England's star, midfielder Paul
Gascoigne, and no one begs to differ. Gascoigne, who leads
England (3-0) into a World Cup Group 2 qualifying match against
Italy (2-0) at London's Wembley Stadium, has in the past six
months depantsed teammate Paul Ince during a match against
Moldova, been red-carded after kicking an opponent in Amsterdam
and made headlines for an alleged assault against his wife,
Sheryl. No word yet on what color he plans to dye his hair. The
Azzurri, by contrast, are a buona famiglia since avuncular coach
Cesare Maldini, 65, an assistant on Italy's 1982 World Cup
champions, was hired last month. Maldini's son, Paolo, is captain.
ESPN, 2:55 PM

Friday 2/14


Bulls at Hawks

Born-again Christian Laettner, a first-time NBA All-Star in his
fifth season, tagged Chicago with a career-high 37 points the
last time these two teams dueled; Atlanta won 108-103. The Hawks
are Omni-potent: At week's end Atlanta had won 19 in a row at
home. One big reason was that the Hawks have had a better
Laettner than ever, averaging 18.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. A
bigger reason was 7'2" center Dikembe Mutombo (above, battling
the Bulls' Michael Jordan), whose off-season addition allowed
Laettner to play to his natural power-forward slot.

All times Eastern. Schedules are subject to change.

COLOR PHOTO: NATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBA PHOTOS [Shaquille O'Neal in game] COLOR PHOTO: MICHAEL A. SMITH [English sheep dog] COLOR PHOTO: SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/NBA PHOTOS [Michael Jordan and Dikembe Mutombo in game]


O.K., gang, spell apocalypse backwards: "E-S-P-Y...." In its
fifth year, the ESPY Awards show (ESPN, Feb. 10, 8 p.m.) is
becoming as much of a fixture as the Grammys or the Emmys. But
does anybody really care who wins the ESPY in the category of
Men's Bowling (unless you're going to give it to Randy Quaid for
Kingpin)? The last time we looked, folks kept score at athletic
contests. Isn't that (not to mention the salaries of most
honorees) enough? Granted, the E in ESPN stands for
Entertainment. But on this night it also stands for Excess.