The door opened, a crack, yesterday for Bernard King to get back in NBA action. On the other hand, pro basketball took new steps toward adapting its rules to the welcome, but unmistakable, presence of Darryl Dawkins.
The NBA Board of Governors, meeting in Coronado, Calif., initiated a rule to ban players wearing jewelry during games and set tests for spring-loaded, pressure-resistant backboards, as well as a collapsible basket rim.
Philadelphia's Dawkins, you'll recall, broke two standard fiberglass backboards with slamdunks last season. And, as for jewelry, one good line out of the league meeting went, the Sixer might have to hold a garage sale to divest himself of his ornaments.
The NBA pronounced permanency for the three-point goal introduced last season on a trial after years of refusal to admit the old ABA had a great idea there; voted to install a red light to help officials judge whether a shot at period's end has been launched before or after time expired, and decided to set up an expanded working agreement with the Continental Basketball Association, as a developmental ground for referees and players and a testing site for experimental equipment such as those backboards and rims.
Back to the Nba in a moment, but first a visit to Salt Lake City, where King, the talented but frequently troubled forward, got off with felony charges reduced to misdemeanors by circuit court. On his plea of guilty to attempted forcible sexual abuse in the incident at his apartment that led to his New Year arrest, King was sentenced by Judge Christine Durham to two suspended one-year jail terms and a $2,000 fine. Pending yet is a misdemeanor cocaine charge; and with the one-time Tennesee star also an admitted alcoholic -- lie detector tests showed he didn't remember much of what happened the night he allegedly assaulted a woman who had accompanied him home -- his future with the Utah Jazz remains clouded.
Another coaching vacancy about to open up in hoopdom's big league: Cleveland. Stan Albeck wants out at Richfield Coliseum now that the new owner Ted Stepien has brought lovable Bill Musselman into the front office. oThis probably pleases Stepien, who was none too happy when the outgoing administration awarded Albeck a new three-year contract even as Stepien was waiting to take command. The suspicion arises that Musselman, with ABA San Diego coaching experience, might just wind up as Cavalier coach. . .One who doubtlessly won't is Chuck Daly, the Philly assistant. The 76ers report that Daly has rejected head-coaching offers by Detroit and San Antonio in favor of negotiating an extension as right-hand man to Billy Cunningham. So, Albeck may be the man for the Spurs. . .
Grandpa Gordie Howe, flanked by his teammate sons Mark and Marty, told the teary-eyed assembled in Hartford yesterday he is "still damn good enough to play" -- but after 2,421 major league hockey games and 1,071 goals (801 in the Nhl) he is hanging up his skates. "I probably have another half-year in me," declared the 52-year-old Whaler wonder, "but I'd rather retire and leave the game rather than try again next season and tire halfway through."
George Bamberger is rarin' to go. Tanned and trim, cleared "to drink all the beer I want," he needs only one more quickie checkup today and it's go for him to resume managing the Milwaukee Brewers as a probably capacity throng cheers during the opener of a County Stadium home stand Friday night. . .
Howard U. has a new football -- Ken Mack, 23, former U. of North Carolina starting fullback, to tutor offensive backs -- and a new basketball recruit, 6-7 James Harris (15 points, 11 rebounds) from Columbus, Ohio's Centennial High. . . . A Morgan Wootten appreciation luncheon for De Matha's, and not N.C. State's, living basketball legend, is on tap Tuesday noon; Touchdown Club. . .Too bad that conflicts with the Bullet's draft-day luncheon, but Ken Beatrice is portable, hey?