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Bush welcomes Pistons, praises teamwork, poise

President Bush welcomed the Detroit Pistons to the White House for the second straight year Thursday, hailing the teamwork and poise that propelled them to consecutive NBA championships.

"That's the Pistons' brand of basketball that has captivated the hearts of this country," Bush said at a Rose Garden ceremony. "I welcome you back, true champions that you are. Maybe I'll see you here next year."

The 12 players, coach Chuck Daly, and team officials stood behind Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle, shuffling uncomfortably in the stifling heat.

Isiah Thomas was "everybody's MVP," Bush said, while hard-nosed center Bill Laimbeer was "my old friend Mr. Congeniality."

Thomas, named most valuable player in the NBA Finals in which the Pistons defeated the Portland Trail Blazers four games to one, presented Bush with a Pistons jersey. "Even though we're No. 1, he's also No. 1," Thomas said.

Heat trades No. 3 pick for Nuggets' Nos. 9 and 15

The Miami Heat today traded its No. 3 choice in Wednesday's NBA draft to Denver in exchange for the Nuggets' No. 9 and 15 selections.

Denver had obtained the No. 9 pick Thursday night from Dallas in exchange for two-time All-Star guard Fat Lever.

The Mavericks acquired Lever in exchange for the ninth selection in the first round of the June 27 NBA draft and a 1991 first-round selection.

"We're pleased to add another quality guard to support Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper," Mavericks General Manager Norm Sonju said.

Lever, 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds, turns 30 on Aug. 18. The eight-year veteran led Denver in scoring (18.3), rebounding (9.3), assists (6.5), and steals (2.12) this season and made his second All-Star appearance.

Boxing's lightweight stars featured in triple-header

A boxing triple-header featuring two world champions seeking to unify the lightweight division for the first time in 12 years, two Olympic gold medalists and boxing's clown prince is set for Aug. 11 in Reno, Nev.

Hector "Macho" Camacho (39-0 with 17 knockouts) lived up to expectations at Thursday's press conference, smearing his face with ketchup to represent a bullet wound and shooting off cap guns because the card is being promoted as the "Fastest Guns in the West."

When Camacho (39-0 with 17 knockouts) taunted co-featured fighters Meldrick Taylor (24-1-1, 14 KOs) and Pernell Whitaker (22-1, 12 KOs) for not being undefeated against far tougher competition, Taylor seethed and Whitaker smiled. Then Whitaker said more than anybody with three words: "It's my show."

Whitaker (22-1, 12 KOs), the World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation champion, will fight World Boxing Association titlist Juan Nazario to produce only the sixth undisputed title since the arrival of the International Boxing Federation. Camacho will face Tony Baltazar (35-3-1, 28 KOs), and Taylor's opponent is still undecided.

Nazario of Puerto Rico is 22-2. He upset Edwin Rosario in April to win the title.

The last undisputed lightweight champion was Roberto Duran, who in 1978 unified the title against Esteban DeJesus.

Benoit leads in Fresno; Hricsina wins Seniors event

Bob Benoit of Topeka, Kan., climbed into the lead Thursday night after four rounds of the Professional Bowlers Association $125,000 Fresno Open.

Benoit knocked down 6,124 pins for 26 games, including 30 bonus pins for each match game victory. Benoit posted a 6-2 mark.

Joe Salvemini of Oklahoma City stayed in second place after leading the first two rounds. The three-time titlist felled 6,108 pins. Venezuela's Rodolfo Monacelli Jr. is third with 6,068 pins.

Tom Baker of Buffalo finished 36th with 3,909 pins and earned $870.

In St. Charles, Mo., John Hricsina rolled eight straight strikes in the championship game to defeat Jimmy Certain, 269-248, and win the $75,000 AMF Bobcat Senior Open.

Hricsina, who had not won in seven previous appearances in the stepladder finals, earned $8,000 for his first professional bowling victory in 13 tries.

No. 3 seed Chang ousted; rain delays McEnroe match

Third-seeded Michael Chang lost two tiebreakers and his second-round match, bowing to Mark Kratzman of Australia, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3), at the Manchester Open grass court tournament in England.

Pete Sampras, the No. 2 seed, beat fellow American Joey Rive, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In Wentworth, England, John McEnroe's hopes of pre-Wimbledon tune-up were stymied for the second day in a row when rain again delayed his match against Sweden's Jonas Svensson.

In Frankfurt, West Germany, a model and a boxing promoter accused of attempting to extort money from the father of West German star Steffi Graf were in custody pending an investigation into the case, according to published reports.

The West German newspaper Bild quoted Frankfurt prosecutor Jochen Schroers as saying the two attempted to get money from Graf's father, Peter, in connection with the birth of the woman's illegitimate child.

Nicole Meissner, 22, is alleged to have tried to extort $295,000 from the 52-year-old Graf, claiming that he fathered her child that was born in January.

Around & About

Michael Tranghese was named to succeed Dave Gavitt as commissioner of the Big East Conference. He had been the Big East's associate commissioner. . . . Syracuse basketball player Richard Manning is considering a transfer to another school. The 6-foot-11 Manning, who averaged 3.1 points and 2.2 rebounds as a sophomore last season mostly coming off the bench, said he might leave Syracuse to improve his chances for a career in the NBA. . . . Doug Flutie headed to Vancouver to meet with Joe Kapp about the possibility of playing for the British Columbia Lions of the CFL. Flutie, released by the NFL's New England Patriots after going unclaimed as a Plan B free agent, hopes to continue his pro career in Canada. But his agent, Randy Vataha, has been unable to reach agreement on a contract or convince Kapp, the Lions' general manager, to trade Flutie's rights to another CFL team.

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