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Saturday, January 10, 1998 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sonic Report

Baker's College Jersey To Be Retired In Hartford

BOSTON - Vin Baker has been a three-time All-Star and was selected to represent the United States in the World Championship in 1998. Despite such accolades, Baker said one of his highest accomplishments will occur today when he returns to Hartford for the first time since graduating in 1993.

Baker's alma mater will honor him by retiring his jersey in a ceremony Sonic General Manager Wally Walker also will attend in Hartford, Conn.

"It feels good going home 29-6," said Baker, referring to Seattle's record. "I definitely feel good about getting my jersey retired. This is the first time I've been in there since I graduated, so it will be great."

Baker played at Hartford from 1989 to 1993 and is its all-time leader in points (2,238), field goals (860), free throws (9,445) and blocks (279). He was named honorable mention All-America after his senior season but never played in the postseason.

Baker prepared a speech, "short and sweet," he said - and will rejoin the team for tomorrow's game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"A lot of good things have happened to me," Baker said. "Making the All-Star team, playing in the World Championship in Greece next summer, and this ranks right up there."

Sonics start strong

The Sonics have won eight straight games while maintaining the NBA's best record. Seattle is off to its second best start in franchise history. Things can only get worse, right? Well, not when it comes to health.

Jerome Kersey - the Sonic spark plug and one of its best rebounders - has been going through some drills with the team and expects to rejoin Seattle within a week.

"I'm a little anxious," said Kersey, who was the most vocal Sonic in exhorting his teammates from the bench last night. "But they're playing well."

On Dec. 2, Kersey was placed on the injured list with a broken left foot. David Wingate and Dale Ellis have taken Kersey's minutes and played well, especially Ellis, who is having one of the best shooting stretches of his career.

But the Sonics' weakness remains rebounding, which is one of Kersey's best skills. The small forward is still not fully healthy - "70 percent," he said - but expects to return soon after getting more practice time and conditioning.

"The way it stands now, everything is going to be all right and I'll be back for the Cleveland game at home," Kersey said, referring to Shawn Kemp's return to KeyArena next Friday.

Because the Sonics have 12 players on the active list, Eric Snow probably will be put on the inactive list when Kersey returns.

Notes

-- Jim McIlvaine was a defensive force with four blocks in only 12 minutes. He also made all three field-goal attempts and grabbed four rebounds.

-- Greg Anthony had seven assists in only 24 minutes as he played alongside Gary Payton for much of the game.

-- Travis Knight led the Celtics with 21 points (on 10-for-16 shooting) and 10 rebounds. He was one of five Celtics to score in double figures.

-- Every Sonic played and scored at least one point. Five Sonics scored in double figures, led by Baker's 22 points. Ellis had 19, Payton 18, Detlef Schrempf 11 and Hersey Hawkins 10.

-- Dana Barros, the former Sonic, was four for four from three-point range and finished with 14 points.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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