Why doesn't Johnny know geography? Maybe he lives in New Jersey, where many pro sports teams are called, but only a couple admit it.

The Philadelphia 76ers are close to becoming the Garden State's fifth pro team - and the third to eschew a geographically correct name. They plan to maintain their Pennsylvania affiliation despite a Camden, N.J., address.Welcome to the club, fellas. Already hunkered down in East Rutherford, N.J., are the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Possible arrivals in the near feature include the New York Yankees, with their eye on the Meadowlands.

Sixers owner Harold Katz, at a Philadelphia news conference, couldn't see what the big deal was: "We are seven minutes from here. You people act like we're moving to Kansas City."

No, just across the river. But when he arrives in New Jersey, Katz will find the constant out-of-state references get annoying to the natives. The 50-yard line at Giants Stadium was emblazoned in 1987 with an outline of the state and the words "New Jersey Meadowlands" to emphasize that point.

While the Sixers would make their home in South Jersey, the displaced denizens of the north - the Giants and the Jets - have their own twisted take on the metropolitan map.

Consider this: The New York Giants, who once played in Connecticut, have their corporate offices in New Jersey. They practice every day in New Jersey. Their training camp is in New Jersey. Their coach and most of their players live in New Jersey.

The New York Jets, on the other hand, have their offices on Long Island. They practice on Long Island. And they play in New Jersey - at Giants Stadium.

The only pro football team still in New York opts to use its town name: The Buffalo Bills. Of course, they play outside the city in Orchard Park, N.Y.

"Many teams around the country play in places that are not where the name says," observed John Samerjan, spokesman for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority. "The Washington Bullets play in Landover, Md."

If the bad news is that some New Jersey teams use outside billing, the worse news is that some do not. The New Jersey Devils and the New Jersey Nets, residents of the Meadowlands Arena, have combined to hang zero championship banners in the rafters.

Not that winning solves these identity crises. When the Giants established themselves as a Super Bowl contender a decade after leaving the Big Apple, then-New York mayor Edward Koch labeled the team "traitors."

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Asked about a ticker-tape parade for the team, Koch scornfully replied, "Let them have a parade in Moonachie" - a tiny New Jersey town just north of the Meadowlands. The Giants wound up holding their Super Bowl party in East Rutherford, N.J.

The whole name game means little to the people in the seats - a claim borne out by sellouts for every Giants and Jets game, said Samerjan. "These are more political issues than fan issues," he pointed out.

Those feelings were echoed by Giants season ticketholder Steve Kennedy of Pompton Lakes, N.J. The arrival of pro basketball in Camden - under the banner of New Jersey or Philadelphia - won't affect him one way or the other.

"It would have the same effect as the Orioles moving to Cape May," said the lifelong Jersey resident. "I've been there once in my whole life, and I was just passing through."

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