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Names In The Game

December 29, 1997

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Rookie point guard Brevin Knight of the Cleveland Cavaliers, leading the NBA in steals with 3.04 per game, could be the first rookie ever to lead the league in that department.

Only 10 rookies have led the league in a major statistical category and seven of those players went on to the Hall of Fame. Two rookies _ Wilt Chamberlain in 1959-60 and Ernie DiGregorio in 1973-74 _ led in two categories. Chamberlain was the leading scorer (2,707) and rebounder (1,941) and DiGregorio led in free throw percentage (.902) and assists (8.2).

Knight, averaging nine points and eight assists, did not practice Monday due to a sprained left ankle and is questionable for Tuesday’s game against Miami.

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LONDON (AP) _ Fitness adviser Fritz Schmid was denied a work permit to be employed by Tottenham on Monday, fueling speculation that team manager Christian Gross would quit the soccer team after only a month and Juergen Klinsmann would become player-manager.

According to the Evening Standard, the Swiss Football Association has already targeted Gross to become coach of the national team.

``When I signed my contract, it was on the condition that I could bring Fritz with me,″ Gross said after Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Arsenal.

The problem is that Schmid, like Gross, is Swiss and has to get past Britain’s tough work permit rules. The Spurs said they would appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, speculation was rife in Germany that Klinsmann, re-hired by Tottenham last week, might take over from Gross if the Swiss coach leaves.

Klinsmann is a big favorite with Spurs fans, having scored 29 goals in one season for the club two years ago.

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BORMIO, Italy (AP) _ French skier Benjamin Melquiond sustained a broken shoulder, a cut right eyebrow and a slight concussion in a spectacular spill during Monday’s World Cup downhill.

Doctors who treated him at a hospital said Melquiond would be sidelined for at least one month.

Melquiond, a super-G specialist, lost his balance and crashed through safety nets at the S-shaped section preceding the final jump on the icy Stelvio course. He was released from the hospital after being treated.

Austrian downhill specialist Josef Strobl sustained a bruised right knee when he fell after clocking one of the fastest split times.

Team officials said Strobl’s knee will be checked by specialists and that he looked like an uncertain starter in Tuesday’s downhill race.

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MILAN, Italy (AP) _ AC Milan striker George Weah will undergo surgery for a spinal disc injury and is expected to be sidelined for at least two months.

The Milan club did not confirm the report by the news agency ANSA and sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, saying only that doctors examined Weah on Monday.

Weah, player of the year in 1996, last played a first division match for AC Milan against Bari on Dec. 7. He has scored only three goals in 11 games this season, often complaining of back pains.

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SESTRIERE, Italy (AP) _ Alberto Tomba scored his first victory of the season Monday in an exhibition race that does not count for the World Cup.

Tomba beat other gate specialists such as Jure Kosir and Michael von Gruenigen in a three-run short giant slalom, with results based on the two fastest times and the worst performance discarded.

Tomba had a combined time of 1 minute, 1.52 seconds, and earned $23,500.

Kosir placed second in 1:02.13. Italy’s Patrick Holzer was third in 1:02.25. Von Gruenigen, a world giant slalom champion, finished fourth.

``Bravo Alberto,″ Tomba said, complimenting himself.

The Italian, who will be competing in his fourth Olympics at Nagano in February, placed fourth in a slalom at Sestriere this month _ his best World Cup finish so far this season.