BASKETBALL—ABA: The four-year-old league enjoyed a successful coming-out party in the national showplace, Madison Square Garden. Over 12,000 fans, undeterred by a nagging taxi strike and an imminent railway walkout, paid NBA-like ticket prices to watch Virginia defeat Denver 113-109 and Indiana trounce New York 129-108. As a thank you, the league gave away 6,033 of its red, white and blue basketballs. "This is it, playing in the Garden," said Net Coach Lou Carnesecca, who also enjoyed the return of Rick Barry, the ABA's most glamorous player. Barry scored 50 points in two Net losses, then led a 128-99 victory over East Division leader Kentucky with 27 points. The Colonels also lost to the Floridians 122-117 as Virginia, with five wins, tightened the race.
NBA: Bullish Chicago won four straight last week to move within a game and a half of second-place Detroit in the Midwest Division. Chicago ran through San Francisco 98-87, Buffalo 138-120, Atlanta 87-86 and San Diego 103-98 as Bob Love and Chet Walker combined for 187 points. First-place Milwaukee lost twice, 127-97 to Baltimore and 113-111 to Phoenix. Boston's winning streak finally came to an end at 10 games as Detroit scored a 121-118 overtime victory. Still, the Celtics remained in second place in the Atlantic Division as slumping Philadelphia lost its 10th game in 13 starts, 118-101, to pacesetting New York. Cleveland won its second of the year 108-106 over Buffalo, blowing an 18-point second-period lead in the process. Next time out the Cavaliers lost 114-95 to Cincinnati in a return to normalcy.
BOXING—ERMITO SALVARRIA of the Philippines won the World Boxing Council flyweight title by flooring champion Chartchai Chionoi of Thailand three times in the second round of their fight in Bangkok.
Mexico lost a share of another world title when WBC featherweight champion Vicente Saldivar failed to answer the bell for the 14th round in his Tijuana bout with KUNKAKI SHIBATA of Tokyo. Shozo Saiyjo, also of Japan, is recognized as champion by the World Boxing Association.
CHESS—BOBBY FISCHER won the Interzonal World Championships in Majorca, qualifying him for matches next year against former world champion Tigran Petrosian and Viktor Korchnoi.
FOOTBALL—Some semblance of order finally appeared in the American Conference. OAKLAND clinched the Western Division title by defeating Kansas City 20-6 (page 18), BALTIMORE won the Eastern crown by outskidding Buffalo in the snow 20-14 and CINCINNATI became the heavy AFC Central favorite by thrashing Houston 30-20 after second-place Cleveland lost 6-2 to DALLAS. The Cowboys were tied with NEW YORK for the National Conference's Eastern leadership following the Giants' important 34-17 victory over St. Louis. SAN FRANCISCO kept up its pace in the West, beating New Orleans 38-27, and NFC Central winner MINNESOTA enhanced the NFL's best record by trouncing Boston 35-14. With only one week to go there are still 13 teams eligible for playoff berths, but MIAMI seemed in the best shape for the AFC's runner-up opening following its 16-10 defeat of the Jets. The fourth playoff spot in the NFC was as wide open as that league's Eastern and Western Division races.
American Conference—Eastern: Baltimore (10-2-1), Miami (9-4-0), New York (4-9-0), Buffalo (3-9-1), Boston (2-11-0). Central: Cincinnati (7-6-0), Cleveland (6-7-0), Pittsburgh (5-8-0), Houston (3-9-1). Western: Oakland (8-3-2), Kansas City (7-4-2), Denver (5-7-1), San Diego (4-6-3).
National Conference—Eastern: New York and Dallas (9-4-0), St. Louis (8-4-1), Washington (5-8-0), Philadelphia (2-10-1). Central: Minnesota (11-2-0), Detroit (8-4-0), Green Bay (6-7-0), Chicago (5-8-0). Western: San Francisco (9-3-1), Los Angeles (8-3-1), Atlanta (4-7-2), New Orleans (2-10-1).
Tulane scored two second-half touchdowns to post a 17-3 upset victory over Colorado in the Liberty Bowl. Other postseason results saw the top-ranked small-college team, ARKANSAS STATE, blast Central Missouri State 38-21 in the Pecan Bowl, while the No. 1 NAIA team, Wofford, suffered its first loss in 21 games, 48-7 to TEXAS A&I, the defending champion, in the NAIA Champion Bowl. Elsewhere, DELAWARE won its third straight Boardwalk Bowl 28-23 over Morgan State, TENNESSEE STATE edged Southwestern Louisiana 26-25 in the Grantland Rice Bowl, NORTH DAKOTA STATE repeated last year's Camellia Bowl victory over Montana 31-16 and unbeaten JACKSONVILLE ( Ala.) STATE downed host Florida A&M 21-7 in its annual Orange Blossom Classic.
GOLF—DOUG SANDERS birdied the 72nd hole to tie Chris Blocker for the lead, then won a sudden-death playoff for the $26,000 first prize in the Bahama Islands Open (page 26).