Rockets Launch New Uniforms

The NBA champions' new threads are out of this world.

The Houston Rockets' revamped jersey, which team officials planned to unveil during tonight's draft, was carried aboard space shuttle Atlantis when it blasted into orbit yesterday on a 10-day mission.

The jersey's trip into space came two weeks after NASA officials said they had rejected the Rockets' request for the astronauts to help unveil the team's new logo. Billie Deason, a spokeswoman at Johnson Space Center, said at the time that NASA couldn't participate in the commercial venture.

"We still cannot participate in the unveiling part," Deason said. "We just carry the materials on the shuttle. We return them to the organization afterward to be put on public display."

The two-time defending NBA champs are ditching their familiar red-and-yellow uniforms next season for a scheme featuring red, silver and midnight blue. The new logo features a rocket orbiting a basketball.

Utes to get Olympic boost

Not only did Salt Lake City hit a home run by winning the bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics, so did the University of Utah football program.

The Utes already had plans to raise the capacity of on-campus Rice Stadium from 32,000 seats to 42,000 in 1997. But now the local Olympic committee will pay for an added expansion, to 50,000.

The stadium will be the site of the Olympics' opening and closing ceremonies.

Utah, coached by Ron McBride, had its finest season last fall, going 10-2 and beating Arizona in the postseason Freedom Bowl game.

They wrote it

-- Earl Gustkey, Los Angeles Times: "Sudden thought: Why not move Utah into the Pacific-10? The Utes could trade places with Washington State, which hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1931."

-- Blackie Sherrod, Dallas Morning News: "Somehow something seems awry when you notice San Antonio vs. Birmingham in the Canadian Football League. However, it's no worse than the Dallas Cowboys playing in the NFC East, and Atlanta in the NFC West. What we have here is a lack of class. Geography class."

-- Woody Woodburn, Ventura (Calif.) Star-Free Press, on the Los Angeles Lakers' Vlade Divac: "He's not a pit bull in the paint yet, but at least he's become a poodle with an attitude."

He said it

-- Dennis Rodman, on whether he'll be back with the San Antonio Spurs next season: "If I come back, great. If I don't, I'll have other opportunities. I'll play ball somewhere. I'll always be me. I'll be worse next year. I'm getting some more tattoos. I'm getting one for my head."

Compiled by Chuck Ashmun, Seattle Times