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NEWEST TIMBERWOLF BAILEY OFFERS A FEW NBA OBSERVATIONS

Now an integral part of the Minnesota Timberwolves' basketball team, former Jazzman Thurl Bailey is looking at new horizons - not the least of them being journalism.

Bailey got his chance to write, compliments of the editors of the team's "Wolf Tracks" magazine. The magazine asked him to pen the regular "Players Perspective" column in the latest issue.Some of Bailey's observations:

- "With the Jazz we were expected to win certain games. We were expected to stay up at a different level with teams like the Lakers and the Celtics. With the Timberwolves, every game, night in, night out, is a big game for us. You have to treat every game like it's a Lakers, Celtics or Jazz game."

- "A trade affects each player differently. I think the trade was a bigger adjustment for me than it was for Tyrone (Corbin). Tyrone is a great player and the transition was a little easier for him because he had been through a trade before. Also, he went from an expansion team to a team that has a winning record every year. His goal is to go in and try to make them a little better, which he has done."

- "In my situation I had a comfort zone at Utah. I also knew, however, that we had a winning record every year, and that we made to the playoffs every year, but kept getting knocked out in the first or second round. There comes a time when owners and coaches won't put up with that anymore. They will start making changes. Even though we had a nucleus there of Karl (Malone), John (Stockton) and Mark Eaton and myself, I always knew, in the back of my mind, that I was probably the most tradeable out of those guys? Who would trade Karl Malone or John Stockton? Those are franchise players."

- "The Twin Cities have grown on me, but after being in Utah for eight years it's taking me a while just to get totally adjusted - not just on the court but off as well . . . For me it was a difficult transition, because I was uprooted from a place and program that I had been with for a long time, and I had to replant myself. I think this is a new opportunity for me. In Utah, I don't think my role would have ever changed."

Lakers' announcer Chick Hearn called his 2,500th consecutive L.A. game on Friday. He has been with the team 32 years. New York announcers Marv Albert and Seattle's Bob Blackburn have been with their teams 25 seasons, Portland's Bill Schonely 22 years, Phoenix's Al McCoy and Cleveland's Joe Tait 20 years, and the Jazz's Hot Rod Hundley is in his 18th season.

So you're upset about the Jazz raising your ticket prices when they moved into the Delta Center? Get in line.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Magic, who are finishing their third NBA season, are expected to raise prices. Charlotte and Miami - also expansion teams - raised ticket prices before their fourth season. Minnesota is expected to do likewise.

While the Magic may plan to raise prices, the Jazz say their boost in ticket prices last year will probably suffice for a number of years.

Currently, Magic ticket prices reportedly range from $8 to $25, while Jazz tickets go for anywhere from $8 to $40. (VIP Jazz tickets range from $60 to $125.)

The NBA's playoff schedule has been released. Here some of the details:

- Qualifying teams will play a best 3-of-5 first round series, beginning April 23 or April 24. They will be played in a 2-2-1 configuration.

- NBA Finals will start on one of three dates: May 29, May 31 or June 3.

- Conference semifinals and conference finals will be played in a 2-2-1-1-1 configuration. The finals will be played on a 2-3-2 configuration.

- All Finals games will be played in prime time, Sunday games at 5 p.m. (MDT) and Wednesday and Friday games at 7 p.m. (MDT).

AND THEN SOME: Bailey says his favorite cartoon when he was a kid was Bugs Bunny. Teammate Pooh Richardson added, "My favorite cartoon as a kid is still my favorite today: the Flintstones" . . . Lakers' G.M. Jerry West on the condition of his team: "I think that this team is now starting to look like a team that emotionally is not very sound." . . . Michael Jordan on the price of stardom (as quoted by Chicago Tribune Writer Sam Smith, author of "The Jordan Rules"): "I used to be very naive. I thought that I could keep all the negative things to myself and let the public see all the positives. I thought I could live that perfect life. But I realize it can't be done." . . . Golden State Coach Don Nelson on becoming the first man in history to participate in 2,500 games as a player or head coach: "Being in 2,500 games is quite a statistic, I guess," he said. "As I look back, I believe my longevity in the NBA is due to the fact that I never thought I would be around for the next game. I approached each game as if it were a matter of life and death." . . . The banners that flew in downtown Orlando during All-Star week were offered to the public for sale at $25 each . . . Jazz center Mike Brown's license plate reads, "IDUNK4U" . . . Lakers' West will be honored as Upper Deck's "High Series Hero" in its Inaugural Edition of Upper Deck NBA basketball cards. West's tribute will include a nine-card limited edition insert set, which will be randomly inserted in Upper Deck's "High Series" foil packs.

This column includes materials gathered from outside news sources.