SBD/13/Franchises

CELTICS CHAIR RETRACTS RACISM CHARGE OVER LEWIS STORY

     Celtics Chair Paul Gaston backed away from a comment made
during a Thursday press conference that the Wall Street Journal
article on Reggie Lewis' death was racist.  Gaston told WEEI's
Dale Arnold:  "It was not necessarily a racist issue.  That part
was hotheaded."  Gaston also addressed the issue of whether the
team would have suffered financially if it was found that drugs
caused Lewis' heart ailment.  Gaston said the team actually would
have made more money, since the team and the insurer would have
been freed from fulfilling Lewis' contract (Jack Craig, BOSTON
GLOBE, 3/11).  In other news, Celtics CFO Joseph DiLorenzo said
he believes Lewis would have provided blood and urine samples as
part of the insurance application, and that they would have been
tested for drugs.  A spokesperson for the state's chief medical
examiner said none of the eight consultants who assisted in
Lewis' autopsy raised the possibility of drug use in their
official reports, although one of the doctors said he raised
concerns verbally (Stephen Kurkjian, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/11).
     WEEKEND TALK:  BOSTON GLOBE'S Bob Ryan:  "The tragedy of
this is that no one will ever prove that he did or didn't do it"
("Sports Reporters," ESPN, 3/12).  In New York, Mitch Lawrence
writes, "The Celtics want this story to go away, but that won't
happen soon.  Not when $15 million is at stake in what is shaping
up as an insurance fraud case" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/12).  Phil
Mushnick notes that NBC's "three-hour, seven-reporter" coverage
of the NBA yesterday ignored the Lewis story (N.Y. POST, 3/13).
A BOSTON GLOBE editorial states:  "Instead of wasting their money
on a libel suit, the Celtics would be better advised to help fund
an independent investigation" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/11).
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