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HE STARTED OUT as a kid from Bountiful who couldn't land a permanent spot on the BYU basketball team. Now he's of the power brokers of the '90s. Newsweek lists former Jazz President Dave Checketts among its "Overclass 100."

The Overclass is "a new elite of highly paid, high-tech strivers" who are "among the country's comers, the newest wave of important and compelling people."Checketts, 39, is CEO of Madison Square Garden, having previously served as president of the Jazz and New York Knicks. Of Checketts, it says, "He attended Brigham Young University - where he lasted only one season on the basketball team. But now he controls the floor."

Checketts joins a list of famous and/or successful contemporaries, including Katie Couric, Al Gore, George Stephanopoulous, Jerry Reinsdorf, Grant Hill, Donna Karan and John Grisham.

TRANSFER: Serving a two-year mission for the LDS Church, McKay Christensen, the California Angels' first-round pick in 1994, knows what a transfer is - in more ways than one.

Christensen is now the property of the Chicago White Sox, not the Angels, thanks to a recent trade.

"The trade is a backhanded vindication of Christensen's ability, since Angels' scouting director Bob Fontaine was razzed for picking him, and now Chicago wants him. But Darin Erstand, whom the Angels signed last Wednesday, will play in the majors before Christensen does," wrote Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register.

However, Angels general manager Bill Bavasi, when asked if it was tough losing Christensen, replied, "No."

Meanwhile, ex-BYU player Ryan Hancock remains on the Angels' roster.

BIG STICK: President Clinton may not be John Daly when it comes to driving the golf ball, but he does have a new long-range weapon.

Golf architect Robert Trent Jones recently gave Clinton a new driver, called the "Peace Missile." Reports say the driver is made from genuine Russian nuclear missile parts.

Jones, who designed the first 18-hole course in Russia, was given the club by a Russian friend, who asked that it be given to Clinton.

The Presidential reply? "It will be real useful. I'm quite busy entertaining these days."

APPARENTLY NOT: He may be a villain to most NBA fans, but Dennis Rodman is a generally popular figure with teammates and their families. Rodman has been known to remember the names of other players' children and ask after them regularly.

Rodman was recently befriended by Jeremiah Rivers, the 7-year-old son of Spurs' guard Doc Rivers. The younger Rivers was intrigued by Rodman's assortment of tattoos, according to NBA writer Bill Needle.

When Rivers explained the painful process of tattooing, his son considered the problem, then replied, "Gee, Dad. That must really hurt a lot to have all those tattoos. Hasn't he heard of stick-ons?"

FASHION STATEMENT: Michael Jordan may be back, but the teal-and-purple of the Charlotte Hornets remain the most popular NBA colors.

In sales numbers through the end of the regular season, Charlotte was the league's top-selling team in terms of merchandise.

"Even though Michael came back, the Hornets are still the number one team," said Jon Stern, a spokesman for the NBA. "Clearly, people are still buying their merchandise."

Chicago remains a major player in the merchandising race, ranked second, followed by Orlando, Phoenix, New York, Seattle, Toronto, Golden State, Houston and Detroit.

QUOTEFILE: Comedy writer Bob Lacey, on Steve Howe and Darryl Strawberry being teammates: "The Yankees are the first team in history to have two players forbidden from associating with one another."