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NBA Rookie in Pickup Game Brawl

June 9, 2009 | 10:00 am

June 9, 1969, Sports

[Hey Keith -- Look at Mr. Modular doing the Sports pages ... with big art! lrh]  

It was not the kind of publicity the NBA wanted for its incoming top rookie. But there on Page 1 of The Times' sports section was a story detailing a fight during a pickup basketball game between former UCLA star Lew Alcindor and Los Angeles Stars' center Dennis Grey.

Grey, described by The Times' Dan Hafner as a slender 6-8 center, suffered a broken jaw when hit by a punch from Alcindor, who was about to join the Milwaukee Bucks after being the first pick in the NBA draft.

"It was just a case where I was provoked--and I reacted,"Alcindor said. "I don't like to be provoked and I regret very much that I reacted the way I did. I am sorry for what happened and it was very silly of me to do that."

"I couldn't believe it," Gey said. "After hitting me he wanted to know if I wanted to fight. Sure, in that condition, he wanted to fight. I told him 'some other time.' "

Alcindor had a well-known incident later in his career as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, when he broke his hand punching Milwaukee's Kent Benson. Abdul-Jabbar missed 20 games with the Lakers because of the injury, which occurred in the 1977-78 season opener.

Grey played four games for the New York Nets in 1969-70, averaging 4.5 points.

::

The Dodgers stepped in the path of history, stopping the Montreal Expos' 20-game losing streak

Elroy Face, who had been one of baseball's first premier closers with the Pittsburgh Pirates, barely hung on to ensure the Expos' 4-3 victory. Willie Crawford made the final out with the bases loaded, sending Rusty Staub to the right-field fence to catch his drive.

The Expos were oh-so-close to making dubious history in their first season. The Cleveland Spiders lost 24 games in a row in 1899.

The Philadelpiha Phillies had 23 losses in a row during the 1961 season. The link between the Phillies and Expos was Manager Gene Mauch.

"The toughest thing is the feeling of inadequacy you get," Mauch told The Times' John Wiebusch. "You want to help, you know they're tearing their guts out ... but you know you can't help."

Mauch would suffer through different frustrations failing to take a couple very talented Angel teams to the World Series, falling short in 1982 and '86.

--Keith Thursby

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