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         The Celtics threatened to file a $100M lawsuit against the
    Wall Street Journal, reporter Ron Suskind and the Journal's
    parent company, Dow Jones & Co. over an article in yesterday's
    paper which alleged that cocaine use might have caused the death
    of Celtics star Reggie Lewis.  Celtics Chair Paul Gaston said he
    was "appalled and outraged" at the article, which he called "an
    example of gutless journalism, yellow journalism based wholly on
    a complete disregard for the truth."  Gaston appeared at a news
    conference with Celtics Exec VP Jan Volk, Celtics GM M.L. Carr
    and Lewis' widow, Donna Harris-Lewis.  Not present was Celtics
    Senior VP Dave Gavitt, who was featured prominently in the
    Journal piece as the team's point man during the time Lewis was
    diagnosed (Peter May, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/10).  Journal Managing
    Editor Paul Steiger:  "We remain confident that the article was
    fair and accurate" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/10).
         NEW PROBE?  The MA Chief Medical Examiner's office will
    conduct a review of its investigation into Lewis' death (BOSTON
    GLOBE, 3/10).  GLOBE columnist Dan Shaughnessy writes that
    "gutless, yellow" journalism "isn't consistent with the 106-year
    history of the Wall Street Journal.  On the other hand, what was
    consistent yesterday was the Celtics' refusal to answer any
    questions about their involvement in Lewis' care. ... Gaston had
    better be right.  His charges against the Journal will unleash a
    new series of investigations.  Ditto for Donna Harris-Lewis, who
    said Reggie never did drugs.  Here's a bet the suit is never
    filed.  The Celtics and Lewis will want no part of the legal
    minefield of discovery and deposition" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/10).
         ANSWERING SPECIFICS:  The Journal article claimed that the
    Celtics may have avoided the issue of drug use because of
    insurance liability and ongoing business pursuits of the Celtics'
    publicly held partnership.  But Celtics Vice Chair Steve Schram
    told the GLOBE "that the insurance company was obligated to cover
    Lewis' policy regardless of how the player died.  There was, he
    said, no stipulation that the policy would be canceled if Lewis
    was found to have died from drug abuse" (Peter May, BOSTON GLOBE,
    3/10).  Volk said he only learned there is no exclusion for drug
    use in the policy "a couple of days ago" after being contacted by
    the Journal reporter (Steve Bulpett, BOSTON HERALD, 3/10).
         DID HE REFUSE A TEST?  On her way out of the interview room,
    Harris-Lewis was asked if her husband refused to take a drug
    test.  Harris-Lewis:  "He didn't refuse.  No.  Reggie did not use
    drugs, contrary to public belief.  He was an intelligent and wise
    man.  This is the way I will remember him" (Mike Wise, N.Y.
    TIMES, 3/10).  But in an interview with the L.A. TIMES, Jerome
    Stanley, Lewis' agent and friend, confirmed the JOURNAL's
    assertion that Lewis refused a test:  "His denying it wasn't
    enough.  Why couldn't they eliminate drugs?  Because they thought
    he was a liar.  I think he just rebelled" (Elliott Almond, L.A.
    TIMES, 3/10).       NBA'S REACTION:  Deputy Commissioner Russ
    Granik released the following statement in reaction to the
    article's claim that the NBA's drug policy played a role in the
    tragedy:  "It's obvious to any reader that this article is based
    entirely on speculation and has no factual basis.  Furthermore,
    there is no conceivable way that the NBA's anti-drug program had
    anything to do with the issue of whether Reggie Lewis was tested
    or could have been tested upon his admission to the hospital"
    (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/10).
         OPINION ROUND-UP:  BOSTON HERALD's Michael Gee:  "If the
    Journal's allegations are true, the Celtics are sitting on
    something worse than the Black Sox scandal, and the paper is in
    for a Pulitzer.  If the Journal's allegations are not true, then
    the paper is lower than whale manure for maligning the living and
    the dead, whether or not it's libel" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/10).  In
    Baltimore (Reggie Lewis' hometown), Ken Rosenthal quotes Lewis'
    mother, Inez Ritch (herself a reformed cocaine addict):  "It's
    not true.  Reggie was not a drug user.  I don't give a damn what
    people say.  If anything was being covered up, it was the fact he
    had a heart condition" (Baltimore SUN, 3/10).  ESPN's Jackie
    MacMullan, who covers the Celtics regularly:  "My feeling is that
    [the Celtics] never had anybody tell them, 'I did drugs with
    Reggie Lewis' or Reggie Lewis never said to them, 'Yes, I did
    drugs.'  So it became one of those things like, 'Well, what we
    don't know won't hurt us.  We believe he's a good guy.  We
    believe he didn't do drugs and we're going to operate under that
    assumption'" ("SportsCenter," 3/9).

    Print | Tags: Boston Celtics, ESPN, Franchises, NBA, Walt Disney

         Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen said yesterday that he met
    with Devils Owner John McMullen, but that the team's "long term
    lease is preventing talks about a move to Nashville," according
    to this morning's TENNESSEAN.  The city of Nashville has been
    trying to land an NHL team to play in their $120M arena under
    construction.  Bredesen said that McMullen has visited Nashville
    and has met with him, but Bredesen said the "city is not ready to
    talk with any team that is not 'legally, morally, and ethically'
    in a position to move" (Mark Ippolito, The TENNESSEAN, 3/10).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, New Jersey Devils, NHL

         NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue will notify all 30 teams
    today "that he is recommending a vote against the Rams' proposed
    move to St. Louis," according to Bill Plaschke in this morning's
    L.A. TIMES.  A league source who spoke to Tagliabue said the
    recommendation "was not final and could be changed" during the
    owners' meeting that begins Sunday in Phoenix.  If eight owners
    follow Tagliabue's recommendation, the move would be blocked.
    But the Rams "will be given a chance to sway" owners by promising
    to pay a relocation fee and a cut of the $70M raised by the sale
    of PSL's (L.A. TIMES, 3/10).  Tagliabue "concedes" that the Rams
    haven't shown significant operating losses for over a "sustained
    period of time," one of the NFL's guidelines in approving a move
    (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY, 3/10).
         IN THIS CORNER:  Plaschke writes that Tagliabue's
    recommendation "sounds much like a bargaining chip."  If he
    recommended a yes vote, team owners would lose all leverage in
    collecting financial fees from the Rams.  If the team does move,
    L.A. would become "the leading candidate for an expansion team in
    four of five years" and owners hoping for better stadium deals
    will still have "leverage with their local city officials."  One
    NFL exec: "While we are losing a big market in the short run, we
    are gaining a lucrative expansion market in the long run" (L.A.
    TIMES, 3/10).  Another possible factor in the Rams' favor is the
    49ers proposal to reduce the number of votes necessary to pass
    NFL legislation from 23 to 21, which could be voted on before the
    Rams vote.  The Rams and St. Louis officials have also "laid the
    groundwork" for suing the league if owners reject the move (Jim
    Thomas, ST. LOUIS POST DISPATCH, 3/9).
         SAVE THE RAMS: Save the Rams, the civic group trying to keep
    the team in the L.A. area, will present their case to NFL owners
    early next week.  Possible speakers include CA Gov. Pete Wilson
    and perspective team buyers, former Mariners Owner George Argyros
    and banking executive William Foley (Gordon Forbes, USA TODAY,
         HELLO PETER, THIS IS AL:  The Raiders have been "carrying on
    a discreet flirtation with Baltimore" according to USA TODAY's
    Gordon Forbes (USA TODAY, 3/10).

    Print | Tags: Franchises, NFL, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Mariners, LA Rams, Wilson Sporting Goods
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