Phil Ford certified as NBA rookie of the year by an official panel of pro basketball writers, 62 to 4, over Reggie Theus . . . Earvin Johnson certified as a Los Angeles Laker, as soon as they can legally tie the knot, draft day, June 26 . . . And Ralph Sampson a longshot prospect to enroll at-East Tennessee State?!?
"There are still four schools-and only four-on Ralph Sampson's list," insisted his coachadviser in Herrisonburg, Va., Roger Bergey, once more ticking off Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.
But a source at ETSU, in Johnson City, Tenn., not such a far piece from Harrisonburg, says you can make that five.
Sampson dropped over for visit, "just to get away from it all, the pressures of recruiting . . . to relax." His host was a Harrisonburg neighbor, B. J. Johnson, who happens to be a graduate assistant to Coach Jim Hallihan at East Tennessee, and, what do you know, ETSU gave 7-foot-4 Ralph a nice, relaxed, "no-hustle" soft sell.
Afterward, Hallihan was quoted as saying, "We are it."
Johnson of Michigan Staste's national champions hied his sophomore self to L.A. for a news conference with the Lakers yesterday, pronounced himself delighted, excited and-at an unsaid but assumed $500,000-$600,000 annually for year-"Whatever they wadnt me to do, that's what I'll do. If they want me to share the point guard with Norm (Nixon), that will be okay, and if I play the off guard, that'll be fine, too." Either way, count him a candidate to stand in 1980 where Ford, the Kansas City King point man from Carolina, stands - best of the beginners. . .
Pretty good money player headed t'other way, out of L.A.: five-year regular Ram safety Bill Simpson. Traded for a draft choice, Simpson's a Buffalo Bill under ex-Ram Coach Chuck Knox. Rams tagged Simpson-a perennially fine playoff performer-expendable because reserve safety Nolan Cromwell is "ready to be a star". . .
Fancy meeting: Super Steelers pick up lowa State's small-but-might-undrafted ball carrier Dexter Green, the old Gar-Field High flash. So he encamps in Pittsburgh with old Woodbridge rival Russell Davis, Steeler draftee from Michigan. . .