Earvin Johnson, the sophomore genius of Michigan State's NACC basketball champions, is taking his decision right down to deadline day: "Magic" will reach into a top hat, or something. Friday and pull out the rabbit that hops into the NBA draft or back into the MSU hutch for at least one of his two remaining years of collegiate eligibility.

Johnson agonized almost to the last minute a year ago about going NBA at that time, and, agony-wise, look at Larry Bird, who beat Magic for college player of year but settled for runner-up hardware as the Spartans beat Indiana State in the NCAA final. Bird took a recent fling at baseball for ISU, cameo appearances as first baseman, as the Boston Celtics winced, but no problem. So what happens? Bird is reported recovering from surgery on the QT at an Indianapolis hospital to repair a broken index finger on his right hand. Not the broken digit on his left hand, with which he played the hoop tournament, but an injury suffered when a ball bounced off his fielding glove and hit his bare hand - in a Terre Haute city league softball game. . .

Ed Farmer, 6-foot-5 Texas Ranger right-hander, explained yesterday he "was nervous" about his first major league starting assignment in five years. Tuesday night when two of his offerings dealt Royal second baseman Frank White and outfield Al Cowens broken bones.

Furthermore, Farmer said, his control was affected after a drive off the bat of K.C.'s Fred Patek leading off the second inning left his arm numb by the third. That doesn't account for the delivery that got White's right thumb in the top of the first, and Cowens wasn't buying any such explanations of the jaw fracture he incurred in the fifth:

"I'd have to say he was throwing at me, maybe not in the face, but it was intentional," Cowens said through wired-together teeth in a Texas hospital. Farmer came to visit (after negative X-rays on his own arm) and told Cowens it was an accident.

By way of peace offerings, Farmer presented Cowens a copy of Ranger mate Sparky Lyle's book on the Yankees, "The Bronx Zoo." Read it and weep?

The boy in the otherwise allgirl high school volleyball league has played his last for the Rogers High School team of Newport, R.I., U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overruling the lower court that put the lad, Donald Gomes, on the team last week. "We believe fairness militates against altering basic ground rules governing composition of teams so late in the season," the appellate court said.

Notre Dame's basketball coach, Digger Phelps, confirms his conversation with Sonny Werblin about coaching Madison Square Garden's NBA club - says, "I'd love to coach the Knicks . . . but not now. My wife and kids are happy where we are. I just bought Knute Rockne's old house on Lake Michigan."