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NBA Finals draw boffo TV ratings

NBC's coverage of the NBA Finals was the highest-rated ever, according to Nielsen figures released Tuesday. The series earned an average rating of 17.9 with a 33 share for six games, all in prime time. The previous record was 15.9-32 for the Lakers-Celtics on CBS in 1987; two of those seven games weren't in prime time. Sunday's final game of this year's series drew a rating of 20.3 and a 39 share, second-highest of any NBA telecast ever. The highest-rated final game was on CBS, a 21.2 rating for Game 7 of the 1988 final between Detroit and Los Angeles. One ratings point is the equivalent of about 931,000 viewing households; the share is the percentage of TVs actually in use.

MORE NBA: A crowd of about 150,000 showed up for a 45-minute rally honoring Chicago's third consecutive NBA title and cheered the players' pledge to win a fourth title. Forward Horace Grant: "If you guys support us like you've done the last three years, then I guarantee another _ four-peat." Guard Michael Jordan: "Destiny will bring us back for the fourth time." Charlotte made a $2.4-million qualifying offer to guard Kendall Gill. The offer was necessary to prevent Gill from becoming an unrestricted free agent. The team had until July

1 to make the offer.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Nearly two years after former cornerback Eric Ramsey claimed he received money and other illegal benefits to play for Auburn, the NCAA's Committee on Infractions will hear the case next Wednesday in Kansas City. Former Auburn coach Pat Dye, forced out by the alleged wrongdoing, will attend. Auburn president William Muse: "We're ready to get it over with." The meeting likely will last two days, and Auburn should know if any sanctions will be handed down within four to six weeks. Auburn athletic director Mike Lude said he expects some disciplinary action to be taken.

MEDIA: Sports Illustrated plans to begin publishing special editions next year giving extra golf coverage for readers who want it, the magazine announced. This is the second time SI has announced targeted issues. The magazine plans football editions in Southeastern Conference states this fall. Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated for Kids said it will publish its first special edition next year, devoted to soccer and the World Cup. The issue will appear in June 1994, just before the 24-nation tournament starts

SOCCER: The United States wasted a three-goal lead in the final 25 minutes and was eliminated from the America Cup with a 3-3 tie against Venezuela in Quito, Ecuador. The America Cup is South America's biennial championship. Venezuela is a perennial doormat in South American soccer.

ET CETERA: Michael Moorer (33-0, 30 KOs), the No.

1-ranked heavyweight challenger by the WBA, stopped James Pritchard in the third round of a scheduled 10-round fight in Atlantic City. The International Olympic Committee sent 30 tons of food supplies and other essential goods to war-battered Sarajevo, the city that hosted the 1984 Winter Games. The IOC said the parcels would be delivered to the Bosnian national Olympic committee, which would distribute the food to "families of sports men and women." Cathy Turner, 31, who won gold and silver speedskating medals at the 1992 Winter Olympics, will try again in the 1994 Games in Lillehammer, Norway. AC Milan, the most powerful soccer club in Europe, is interested in acquiring a franchise if a major national soccer league starts in the United States.

_ Compiled by Mike Huguenin