NBA's Nets should be from California, not New Jersey, as they take on the L.A. Lakers........Ex-Sacramento preps managing in the major leagues goes up to five, now down to four......Sad news regarding former standouts from De La Salle and Crescenta Valley.....Bonds passes fellow Californian on home run list.....

At one point late in the first game of the NBA Finals on Wednesday at the Staples Center, the New Jersey Nets featured four Californians on the court at the same time. The Nets weren't able to overcome the favored L.A. Lakers and lost, 99-94, but if there was ever an NBA team that could say it was from California based on the number of ex-California preps on its roster it's the Nets.

Point guard Jason Kidd, arguably the NBA's MVP for the season, is the obvious leader of the Nets and his stellar 2002 campaign has him on a pace that could make him the second-best player ever to come from the Golden State. The graduate from St. Joseph High of Alameda and the two-time Cal-Hi Sports State Player of the Year (1991-92) probably won't ever surpass legendary Bill Russell (McClymonds, Oakland) on all-time best lists, but he could conceivably move ahead of others like Hall of Famers Bill Walton (Helix, La Mesa); K.C. Jones (Commerce, San Francisco); Hank Liusetti (Galileo, S.F.); Bill Sharman (Porterville) and Jim Pollard (Oakland Tech) as well as probable future Hall of Famer Gary Payton (Skyline, Oakland). Kidd isn't a Hall of Famer yet, but he's certainly on his way.

The other three Nets on the court with Kidd at the same time in the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Wednesday were guard Lucious Harris (Cleveland, Reseda); center Jason Collins (Harvard-Westlake, North Hollywood); and forward Keith Van Horn (Diamond Bar). Vallejo High's Brandon Armstrong also is on the Nets' roster, but wasn't activated for the playoffs. Brian Scalabrine of the Nets went to USC and was born in Long Beach, but attended high school in Washington.

New Jersey head coach Byron Scott has even closer ties to the Lakers. The former Laker went to Morningside High of Inglewood, which is only a few miles from the Forum, where the Lakers used to play. Scott went to the same high school as current NBA player Elden Campbell as well as WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie and WNBA all-star Tina Thompson. NBA all-star Paul Pierce of the Celtics also is from Inglewood, but he attended Inglewood High, not Morningside.

The most prominent member of the Lakers from a California high school is guard Brian Shaw, who was sixth man on Oakland Bishop O'Dowd's 1983 team that lost in the CIF Div. I state finals in overtime to Crenshaw of Los Angeles. Shaw also knows all about Kidd's alma mater as St. Joseph and O'Dowd have one of the best basketball rivalries in the state.

Reserve forward Mark Madsen (San Ramon Valley, Danville) plus assistant coach Kurt Rambis (Cupertino) and non-activated roster player Jelani McCoy (St. Augustine, San Diego) are three others from the Lakers who are from California high schools.

Sac Manager Gets Sacked

When the current Major League Baseball season began, there was an amazingly high total of four managers who all played prep baseball in the Sacramento metro area. The number went up to five early in the season, and now it's back down to four.

The odd man out in the Sacramento count is Buck Martinez, who was fired recently as manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Martinez is from Elk Grove High, although he primarily made a name for himself at Sacramento City College. Martinez was replaced by third base coach Carlos Tosca.

Earlier in the season, the Sacramento club was increased by one when the Milwaukee Brewers fired Davey Lopes and replaced him with Jerry Royster. He was not only a terrific baseball player in the early 1970s at Sacramento High, but Royster also was dynamic in football.

In addition to Royster, the other three former Sacramentans who are major league managers are Dusty Baker (Del Campo, Fair Oaks) of the Giants, Larry Bowa (McClatchy) of the Phillies and Jerry Manuel (Cordova, Rancho Cordova) of the White Sox. Baker is still probably the greatest athlete to ever come from Del Campo as he starred in just about everything he tried. Manuel also played football at Cordova and was one reason why the Lancers had the best record of any team in the state during the decade of the 1970s.

Two Tragedies

•Anthony Vontoure, an all-state player on Concord De La Salle's 1996 football team, died at age 22 last week after being taken into custody by sheriff's deputies in Sacramento.

Newspaper reports indicated Vontoure was screaming and thrashing around after a call was made to the police. He stopped breathing and went into cardiac arrest while in the back of a patrol car. A sheriff's spokesperson said no choke holds were used against Vontoure and at no time was he struck by an officer.

Vontoure was a defensive back at the University of Washington until before the 2001 season when he was dismissed from the team by coaches. His death is particularly sad since his older brother, Chris, also a De La Salle football player and a player who legitimately could have been in the NFL today, drowned in a rafting accident just prior to his senior season for the Spartans in 1994.

Vontoure also was a college teammate of Husky defensive back Curtis Williams, who died in April from complications of being paralyzed in a football game at Stanford during the 2000 season.

•James Jenkins, one of the state's most unique athletes last year at Crescenta Valley High of La Crescenta, has died from an apparent fall near Mammoth Lakes.

Jenkins was reported missing while hiking with his father on Wednesday, May 28. His body was discovered the next day at the bottom of Rush Creek Falls.

Last winter, Jenkins played in 30 games at San Jose State as a 6-7 walk-on forward for the basketball team. At Crescenta Valley, Jenkins not only was a frequent double-figure scorer in basketball, he also was a two-time CIF Southern Section individual champion in swimming.

List of the Week

Most home runs hit by major leaguers from California high schools (as of June 6, 2002)........

587 -- Barry Bonds (Serra, San Mateo)

586 -- Frank Robinson (McClymonds, Oakland)

583 -- Mark McGwire (Damien, La Verne)

521 -- Ted Williams (Hoover, San Diego)

512 -- Eddie Mathews (Santa Barbara)

504 -- Eddie Murray (Locke, Los Angeles)

475 -- Willie Stargell (Encinal, Alameda)

414 -- Darrell Evans (Pasadena)

407 -- Duke Snider (Compton)

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