With their teammate dead and their point guard too distraught to grieve with them, Charlotte Hornets players convinced the NBA last night to postpone tonight's game against the New York Knicks.

Players, coaches and support personnel spent several hours at the team's suburban training complex, meeting with counselors and discussing a memorial service and funeral arrangements for their late co-captain, Bobby Phills.

Late in the day, the league announced the postponement.

"Rod Thorn and I spoke with [Hornets center] Elden Campbell a number of times today, and late this evening he advised us it would be extremely difficult to play so soon after the memorial service," NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said.

The Hornets will resume playing Saturday night in New York before traveling to Baton Rouge, La., Sunday for Phills's funeral.

The only person missing from yesterday's gathering was guard David Wesley, Phills's close friend and the person police say was racing his teammate Wednesday when Phills lost control and collided with an oncoming car.

The Hornets will retire Phills's No. 13 jersey number at their Feb. 9 home game against Cleveland.

Boxing

Tyson Fight Is On

Mike Tyson's on-and-almost-off fight in Britain is on.

After two days of threatening to bar the former heavyweight champion from the country for a 1992 rape conviction, government officials relented yesterday and ruled Tyson's Jan. 29 fight in Manchester, England, could go ahead against Julius Francis. . . .

David Reid will defend his WBA junior middleweight title against welterweight champion Felix Trinidad on March 3 in Las Vegas.

Olympics

Thorpe Honored

The U.S. Olympic Committee, in conjunction with the Native American Sports Council, held a tribute to Jim Thorpe in Colorado Springs.

Thorpe's grandsons presented the second of Thorpe's gold medals to the USOC, and a bronze sculpture of Thorpe by Andrew M. Lester was unveiled.

Soccer

U.S. Women Win

The U.S. women's national team, using a young lineup because of the veteran players' pay dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation, clinched the Australia Cup with a 3-1 victory over Australia in Adelaide.

Colleges

Rutigliano Retires

Sam Rutigliano, 66, the former NFL coach of the year with the Cleveland Browns who found spirituality and fulfillment as the coach at Liberty University, announced his retirement after 11 seasons and a 67-53 record for the Flames.

Rutigliano was a frequent speaker for civic, athletic and religious functions and groups, and is credited with helping to increase financial support for the school and football program.

Locally

Tournament Scheduled

The 11th annual Martin Luther King Jr. women's basketball tournament begins Saturday at Anacostia High. WNBA scouts are scheduled to attend. The tournament concludes Sunday with the final at 1:15 p.m. Proceeds support academic scholarships. . . .

Bob Ferry, the former general manager of the Washington Bullets, will be inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame Feb. 6. Ferry played at Saint Louis University and with the St. Louis Hawks.

CAPTION: Grace Thorpe, daughter of Olympic great Jim Thorpe, kisses bust of her father at a ceremony in Colorado.