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Yank an offensive ad? Viewers say: Just do it

Can you say "yanked?" That is what Nike did this week to one of its commercials featuring San Antonio Spurs star David Robinson that parodies Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. In the TV spot for the company's Force line of basketball shoes, Robinson ties his shoes, then looks at the camera and asks: "Can you say, "Kick some butt'?" The commercial premiered on CBS during the World Series, but it wasn't until it ran on ABC's Monday Night Football this week that the network and the athletic shoe maker were besieged with complaints. As a result, Nike now says it will no longer run the commercial for the $135 basketball shoes on prime-time television. It will, however, continue running the spot after 11 p.m. Most of the complaints came from parents who objected to their children seeing Robinson in what some perceived as a very negative role. "People reacted to it pretty strongly," said Elizabeth Dolan, a spokeswoman for the Beaverton, Ore.-based athletic shoe maker. "Having misjudged the situation, we'll admit it. We don't like to insult people."And this commercial also isn't easy to swallow

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Pooh Richardson was leaving practice last week when teammate Scott Brooks told him a sports-drink company was doing screen tests for spokesmen. Richardson didn't know that Brooks, at the request of Philadelphia 76ers star Charles Barkley, set him up for a new television show of practical jokes. Barkley and teammate Rick Mahorn are the show's hosts. Richardson took a gulp from a cup and, smiling into camera, said, "Yum, it's terrific." That smile lasted only until the director yelled "Cut." Richardson made a face and said, "What you got in this (stuff)? This is horrible." The drink was liberally laced with Tabasco sauce. Brooks then broke the news to Richardson that he had been had. Richardson wasn't the only victim. The show's producers had Charlotte guard Muggsy Bogues invite teammate J.R. Reid over for dinner. Afterward, Reid thought the two were watching live television. Instead, a tape was playing of a local sportscaster. The news: Reid was just traded to Philadelphia for Mahorn. Included was a clip of Barkley panning the trade.

Grete from Norway: These races aren't easy anymore

Norwegian marathon star Grete Waitz, recovering from injuries, says she is unsure of her chances in her comeback race _ the New York Marathon on Nov. 4. "I am not trying to dampen expectations. But the fact is that Grete from Norway can no longer win as she likes," she said. Waitz, 37, has won the New York Marathon nine times but missed last year's race because of a hip injury.

Hey, Grete: These guys are still running strong

Jim Steeves of St. Petersburg is the new Kid on the block. He's 75, and a rookie with the Kids & Kubs. The granddaddy of all softball teams (formally known as the Three-Quarter Century Softball Club Inc.) opens its 61st season today at 1 p.m. at Northshore Park, at the foot of Eighth Avenue NE, in St. Petersburg. Games are each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through April 11. The senior Kid is George Bakewell, 98, an active player for 23 years.

Also worth


A judge in Oklahoma granted an injunction that allows Eric Manuel to keep playing basketball for Oklahoma City University. The NAIA had ruled that Manuel, barred from playing at NCAA schools, was ineligible to play at any of its member schools. The Men's 4.0 tennis team from Royal Racquet Club of Clearwater defeated Southern California on Friday in the opening day of the USTA-Volvo National Tournament in Palm Springs, Calif.

_ Compiled by Mike Kern.