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It's looking like a good year for the NBA All-Whiner Team, with some strong early contenders. Incredibly, none of them are with the Clippers, a team that has a right to moan.

It's not enough to make this team to just complain. You have to complain in a silly way, with a lot of "I" words. And you can't make the team by merely saying that the officials reek, because statements of obvious truth do not count as whining.Here are the early nominees:

CENTER - Dead-heat at this point, between Denver's Dikembe Mutombo, who says he doesn't get enough shots, and Shaquille O'Neal, who complains he doesn't get enough fouls.

"I am not getting any touches of the ball on offense," groused Mutombo. "I'm afraid my role is becoming like Manute Bol. All I do is block shots. I'm sick of this."

Says O'Neal: "I'm calling myself 'desert.' No food, no water, no calls."

Dikembe, I've seen your shot, and anything you get is more than you deserve. And Shaq, your team has the best record in basketball, so shut up. Anyone in that position has no right to whine, ever, about anything.

POWER FORWARD - Derrick Coleman, New Jersey. Leading candidate for Whiner of the Year. The highest-paid player in the league recently launched into a post-loss tirade, saying he wants out if team brass can't get him a better supporting cast.

This is the same Derrick Coleman who got Bill Fitch fired in 1992 by sitting out a road trip during the Nets' playoff drive, claiming to be suffering from a painful groin boil. He took three games off recently with a sprained wrist, though X-rays showed nothing, and some teammates privately speculated that the only thing sprained was his brain.

Coleman is shooting 36 percent this season, including 6-of-40 from 3-point range (15 percent). The only groin boil around here is you, D.C.

SMALL FORWARD - Grant Hill, Detroit. This is a personal thing. Hill apparently received a Mercedes on his 16th birthday, and he said recently that he hated it, because he disliked being the rich kid. Boo-hoo. Try being a poor kid, see if you like that better.

BIG GUARD - Kendall Gill, Seattle. Annual contender. Last year he whined his way out of Charlotte, now he's trying to do the same in Seattle. His beef? His 29 minutes a game aren't enough. "I thought I was an important part of the team," said Gill. "My request to play more is legitimate. I think anybody would want to play more." Gill's agent, Arn Tellem, sounding like the worst kind of Little-League parent, deserves an assist here. He accused Seattle coach George Karl of using Gill as a scapegoat because Karl can't get along with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. "Anytime things go wrong, he takes it out on Kendall." Hurl.

POINT GUARD - Kenny Anderson, New Jersey. After being toasted for 26 points by Payton in a game against Seattle, Anderson blamed coach Butch Beard. The problem: Beard removed him from the game in the first quarter when he got two fouls (as virtually any other NBA coach would have done). "It threw off my rhythm," Anderson grumbled.

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So green-haired Dennis Rodman finally returns to the Spurs (but for how long?), and immediately blames the media for turning his mysterious absence into a "commotion."

Worm, I think I can safely say, taking the liberty to speak for the media in general, we'd rather you just crawled back into your hole. There's evidence many players feel that way, too.

After the Cavaliers' Greg Dreiling grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in a game last week, a writer jokingly said, "Just like Dennis Rodman, huh?" Dreiling, not kidding, responded: "Please don't ever mention my name with his. To see him do that commercial with Santa Claus is enough to question whether my kids should believe anymore."

Thank you, Greg Dreiling.

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There are signs the Orlando Magic may have the ingredients to be the NBA's next powerhouse. They recently pounded the Cavaliers in Cleveland after opening the game with a 42-point first quarter, impressing one observer.

"One of the officials came up and said we looked a lot like the Bulls of a couple years ago," Horace Grant said. "We were playing that well."

Grant said it was too early to compare the Magic to the Bulls, but added, "It's very scary, because we can be so good. Talentwise it's unbelievable. We just need to mature a little more."