Sydney Maree, wasting no time making up for lost time, has whipped Steve Ovett in the mile and arrived in Hamburg saying, in effect, we ain't seen nothin' yet.

"This is just a beginning," Maree said after dealing Ovett his first loss in a mile event in more than four years by clocking 3:48.83 -- fifth-fastest ever -- to Ovett's 3:50.23 in Rieti, Italy. "I don't know what's still inside me."

Given the chance, as a U.S. citizenship applicant, that the IAAF denied him as a South African, never mind his color and his Philadelphia residence, Maree bids fair to crash the private can-you-top-this party between Ovett (best: 3:48.40) and record-holder Seb Coe (3:47.33). And, Saturday in Germany, Maree takes a crack at Ovett's 1,500-meter record . . .

Joe Louis' tombstone in Arlington Cemetery will be unveiled today, 2 p.m. . . . World Boxing Council, meeting in Seoul, has unanimously agreed not to license Muhammad Ali to fight again.

A basketful: The Lakers introduced Mitch Kupchak to the Tinseltown media, and the speeding ex-Bullet with the history of back surgery said he has felt no pain in 16 months -- "Until I crash into a wall or something, I'll be 100 percent". . . . The New Jersey Nets confirm an interest in ex-Terp, ex(?)-Warrior John Lucas. "But there are a number of teams interested in him," says the Donald Dell outfit marketing Lucas . . . Al Wood, another in the burgeoning Dell stable, has signed with the Atlanta Hawks; six years, estimated $300,000 annually, as befits a first-round draftee . . . Bob Knight, the Indiana U. coach, has issued a definite "no" to the offer to join the new NCAA-on-CBS broadcast commentary team -- but not so definite that CBS might not knock again next year.

The NBA's Indiana Pacers have slated a Sept. 19 all-star game to benefit Landon Turner, the 6-10 Hoosier paralyzed in a July 25 auto crash. Turner, who would have been a senior on Knight's defending NCAA champions, has been removed from hospital spinal cord unit to rehabilitative program; hands and legs still immobile . . . In New York, Yankee pitcher Tommy John's son Travis, 2 1/2, left the hospital waving and blowing kisses, evidently fully recovered from the three-story fall that left him in a coma for some time . . .

Died, at 69 in Philadelphia: John Stevens, AL umpire of the 1950s and '60s . . . Murdered, in Albuquerque: Gabe Nava, a starting guard on New Mexico's 1974 WAC basketball champions.

CBS-TV voices from RFK Sunday: Scully and Madden . . . Muzzled White Sox broadcaster Jim Piersall, suspended for one more "embarrassment" to the club, a television-show knock at players' wives, says, c'mon, he meant "nothing personal". . .

The big picture in Anaheim: Fans rallying round Fred Dryer, the old-pro defensive end whom Coach Ray Malavasi thought he could drop, only to be stymied by the front office because of Dryer's six-figure contract.

For double his salary, benched but cheered Dryer will let the Rams cut him. That inspired a letter to the L.A. Times from reader John M. Stazberg, citing precedent in the 1930s Marx Brothers flick, "Animal Crackers":

Chico: Our band charges $10 an hour for playing, $12 an hour for not playing.

Groucho: How much for rehearsing?

Chico: $15 an hour. Groucho: How much for not rehearsing? Chico: You couldn't afford it. If we don't rehearse we don't play, and that runs into money.