Okay, basketball fans, what quick-handed guard led the NBA in steals per game last season? Eddie Jordan? Norm Nixon? Foots Walker?

It wasn't a guard at all; it was 6-foot-6 Detroit forward M. L. Carr and the news is that Carr, a la Kevin Porter having played out his Piston contract, has signed a multi-year contract with Boston.

A major recipent of Porter's record batch of 1978-79 assists, Carr averaged 18.7 points, second on the Pistons only to Bob Lanier; 7.4 rebounds; and 2.46 thefts (to 2.45 apiece for N.J.'s jordan and L.A.'s Nixon in a department in which all the top 10 but Carr were guards).

Bill Fitch, new Celtic coach in the Boston reconstruction, told boss Red Auerbach when he shipped in from Cleveland that three-year Piston Carr was the one acquisition he wanted. Upon Carr's signing yesterday - with the Boston team that cut him in preseason 1974, sending him off to Israel for one year and the ABA the next - Fitch proclaimed:

"The whole country is looking for answers to the energy crisis; we found ours. This is a Carr that is energy efficient and gets plenty of miles to the gallon."

Only MVP Moses Malone of Houston and Artis Gilmore of Chicago played more minutes last year than Carr's 3.207.

The Pistons - having already lost Porter to the Bullets and Ben Poquette to Utah (New Orleans?) via the free-agent route - have compensation coming from the Celts. Detroit Coach Dick Vitale is saying: "All we're asking is Bob McAdoo and it's that simple."

It may be . . .

Mark Nickens, a 1978 All-Met in basketball at Mackin, has told American University he's staying home to turn from a Horned Frog into an Eagle. A 6-5 swing man, he started a majority of varsity games as a freshman at Texas Christian last season, averaging 10 points and seven rebounds. Under NCAA transfer rules, he sits out 1979-80, then has three years of eligibility. Leaving fellow Washingtonian-freshman starter Terry Tibbs at TCU, Nickens becomes the third local recruit by AU Coach Gary Williams since he took over last summer.

Equal time for George Washington: Here's a fellow with real incentive to excel, first recipient of the Tuffy Leemans scholarship honoring GW's all-time football great - Steve Ouellette, a standout wrestler at 134 pounds at Langley High in Northern Virginia . . . And Paul Baker, Colonials' new assistant basketball coach, is no greenhorn - he head-coached Baltimore U. and Wheeling College teams to 198 won, 1976 lost the past 14 years . . .

The Lake Placid, N.Y., pwoers-that-be have decided now is the time to begin selling tickets to the Winter Olympics events of Feb. 13-24. But if you haven't applied by now, you'd better see a travel agent.

If you're among 120,000 enthusiasts who have written the Lake Placid Olympic Organizing Committee (Box 1980, lake Placid, N.Y. 12946) or, earlier, the village Chamber of Commerce, you have a head start - you'll be first to receive application forms, within the next three weeks (but no guarantee you'll get tickets after they receive your order forms, with money; allow six weeks between application and confirmation).

Of the 550,000 tickets only 80,000 go for foreign distribution (32,900 of those to Canada). Of the domestic allocation, about 200,000 are reserved for tour operators; 50,000 go to Lake Placid area residents, and by the time officialdom collects its perquisites, the rest will be alloted regionally, as follows:

NEW YORK: (excluding the Lake Placid tickets) 108.350.

NEW ENGLAND: 55,000.

MOUNTAIN (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada: 17,500.

MIDDLE ATLANTIC (New Jersey and Pennsylvania): 25,000.

EAST NORTH CENTRAL (Ohio, Indiana, Illnois, Michigan, Wisconsin): 15,000.

SOUTH ATLANTIC (Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico): 12,000.

PACIFIC: (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Hawaii): 12,000.

WEST NORTH CENTRAL (Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas): 10,000.

EST SOUTH CENTRAL (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas): 4,000.

EAST SOUTH CENTRAL: (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi): 4,000.