Sen. Bill Bradley can't seem to pass up an opportunity to toss a few balls through the hoop. The former New York Knickerbocker was in Portland, Maine, last weekend to speak at a fund-raising dinner for Sen. George Mitchell. As Bradley was driven from a cocktail reception to the dinner, the driver took him by novelist Stephen King's home, a local tourist attraction. A short distance away, Bradley noticed some kids shooting baskets.

Asking the driver to stop, Bradley got out of the car, towering over the kids in his suit and tie, and asked if he could shoot a few hoops. Gathering up $10 in change from his dinner companions, he told the youths he had bet his friends he could make four out of five, and if he did, he would share the money. As the four youths watched, Bradley made good his boast and then distributed all the money to the kids. One of Bradley's companions asked the youths if they had ever heard of the United States senator. They had not. But they had heard of the Knicks and were duly impressed. Sean Penn for the County Pen There is justice. It looks like brat actor Sean Penn is going to go to jail. A Los Angeles Municipal Court commissioner yesterday sentenced him to 60 days in the County Jail for assaulting an extra on the set of his latest movie. He has been permitted to remain free from custody until next month. He was also sentenced to two years' informal probation after pleading no contest to a reduced reckless driving charge stemming from his arrest on suspicion of drunken driving late last month.

Penn makes a habit of picking fights with fans and others who attempt to take his picture or that of his wife Madonna. His assault on an extra during filming of the movie "Colors" constituted a violation of Penn's probation from a previous battery case. He must begin serving his sentence July 7. Out and About The nation's creative community has been devastated by AIDS. The problem has been of concern in the dance community and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor and other top American dancers met yesterday to announce a major AIDS benefit called "Dancing for Life" scheduled for Oct. 5 in New York's Lincoln Center. Choreographer Jerome Robbins said the groups participating represent the entire New York City dance community from classical to "downtown" and that "the entire history of American dance will be on one stage that evening." The organizers hope to raise $1.4 million for AIDS research ...

Hospital Report: Retired chief justice Warren Burger is in Arlington Hospital suffering from back spasms. The 79-year-old Burger has suffered from a chronic back ailment since contracting polio as a youth ...

Readers of the Crock comic strip yesterday saw that Trooper Holeman was retiring. The tall beanpole of a foreign legionnaire with glasses was put into the strip to salute Frank Holeman, the director of the Tire Industry Safety Council, who retired yesterday. Before that, the former National Press Club president had been a reporter at the New York Daily News. The 6-foot-7 Holeman observed his retirement and 67th birthday at a Press Club party last night ...

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker announced yesterday that while they're not giving up their claim to title of their million-dollar PTL "parsonage" in Tega Cay, S.C., they will move out of the house in the next few days to avoid trouble with the PTL ministry now run by Jerry Falwell. If the high-living evangelists had only realized it, meanwhile, Tammy Faye could have expanded her makeup empire into the lucrative T-shirt market. One-Shot T-shirts, a Charlotte, N.C., company, has come up with one that is outselling hotcakes. It is smeared with what looks like lipstick and eye shadow resembling the over-made up Tammy and reads, "I ran into Tammy Faye at the Mall" ...

Sex may sell magazines, but the July copy of Discover makes an impressive impact on the newsstand. Amid all the colorful covers is a solid black one with the magazine's name in gray. In the middle of all that black is text-size white type that reads: "The End of the Universe: How and When." Now if that won't attract readers ...

Sean Penn yesterday.