He was standing by the potato chips -- a bright-eyed, animated man, the kind who grabs your elbow as he's making an especially telling point.

We were introduced by the host of the party. The man's name was immediately familiar.

I probed, and he confirmed -- he was Joseph Magid, father of Brian Magid, an exceptionally gifted basketball player at George Washington University.

There was a lot of elbow-grabbing over the next two hours.

Joseph Magrid told me all about what it's like to be the father of a star kid.

What he had to say was inspiring, if decidedly against the odds.

Magid Sr. has somehow managed to keep the father-son "good values" pipeline open -- in the face of all the nonsense our culture attaches to sports and the people who play them well.

Often, the relationship between a "famous jock" son and his father can wreck itself on the rocks of the father's fantasies, the son's indifference, or the greed of either or both of them.

But Joseph Magid's head is screwed on frontwards.As a result, despite a lot of reasons why it might not be, so is Brian's.

Brian Magid has been a basketball legend around this area for the last six years, or since he first started to climb in the window of the locked gym at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring for a little extra practice.

The chief reason for Brian's reputation is that he is very good at the game's most visible skill: shooting.

Make ten shots in a row from 22 feet out? Brian can virtually do it in his sleep.

Average 25 points a game? Brian did it nearly his entire high school career.

Win games in the last minute, when the pressure is hip-deep? Brian did it twice last year alone.

So good a shooter is he that, when he was being recruited by those vultures known as college basketball coaches, a scouting magazine accorded Magid one of the game's loftier accolades.

It said he "shoots the postage stamp jumper."

For those who insist on ruining a nice image with clarity, that means that all Magid metaphorically has to do is lick a stamp, stick it to a basketball and "mail in" the package from way outside.

To be sure, this exaggerates Brian Magrid's shooting skill, but not by much.

The proof of the pudding is that he was drafted by the pros after last season, only his third in college.

The inference, of course, was that he was good enough to abandon his last year of eligibility at GW and start "sending some mail" for the pros right now.

But Brian is not going to grab the bucks and run.

He is going to play his final season at GW. Indeed, he is preparing for it even now. At the same time, he is going to graduate school.

This is almost never the way the script goes.

For instance, Adrian Dantley, a playground and high school god here, took the money after three college seasons and turned pro. So did a recent University of Maryland player named Brad Davis.

In both cases, and others, the adults in the player's picture didn't object.

But in Brian Magid's picture, beaming over Brian's decision to finish his college basketball career and his course work for a master's degree, is his father.

"He listened," explained Joseph Magid, who is a retired government cartographer.

"He knows he can't play basketball forever. When he was 17, he thought he could. Now, he thinks the pros would be fine. But if it doesn't happen, that's fine, too.

"Money isn't everything, you know?"

We know. But it's nice to hear it from an unexpected, elbow-grabbing source.

Anyone who thinks that newspapers badly and sadly lack a sense of humor is invited to unwrap his fish and take another look at page A9 of the Sept. 14 Post.

Across the top is a story about how the mathematical proficiency of American students has greatly decreased in recent years.

Directly below the story is an ad for pocket calculators.

On each of the previous two days, The Post sinned greviously by misspelling "memento." The wrong rendition was "momento," naturally.

Thanks to Martha Benenson, of Silver Spring, for spotting the two clunkers, and for offering a clever mnemonic device.

"Two 'momentos' in two days is just too much momentum," she points out.

And thanks to G. M. Pool, of Kensington, for spotting this sign on a construction site next to the Mormon Temple: NO TRESPASSING WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM OWNER