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The Knicks have filed tampering charges against the Heat, who have been "courting" the recently departed Pat Riley for their head-coaching job for the past two weeks, according to Vincent Mallozzi of the N.Y. TIMES. MSG President Dave Checketts said that the Heat "had not asked the Knicks for permission" to talk with Riley. Riley still has one year left on his contract, and anyone wishing to contact him must have the Knicks' permission. Checketts claims that Heat Owner Mickey Arison said his team has "prepared a significant package for Riley," and that reports also allude to the Heat "making Riley aware" of the offer. Riley is said to be preparing his own suit case the Knicks, in which he will reportedly contend that changes in MSG's corporate structure "have altered the conditions under which he initially agreed to work." Winning a "breach of contract suit" against the Knicks would allow him to coach elsewhere without permission or without his new team having to pay compensation to the Knicks. The NBA's maximum fine for tampering is $1M (N.Y. TIMES, 6/30). Checketts: "This may be, I think it is, the most blatant example of tampering I have ever seen in twelve years in the NBA" (ESPN, 6/29).
Devils Owner John McMullen and President Lou Lamoriello met with NJSEA officials and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday in a "heavily guarded meeting" at McMullen's Secaucus, NJ office, according to this morning's Bergen RECORD. After emerging from the meetings, both sides said they would meet again, but had little else to say (Fitzgerald, Hirsch & Dottino, Bergen RECORD, 6/30). WANTED: A TEAM -- ANY TEAM: Gaylord Entertainment President Dick Evans, who is heading Nashville's push to land an NHL franchise, said yesterday "a Devils move to Tennessee in time for next season looks unlikely because the team is tied up in court," according to this morning's RECORD. Evans, in his first news conference before national press, said the possibility of a lawsuit made things "unpredictable." The RECORD reports that Evans said "the intense publicity about Nashville's courtship of the Devils could position the city to win an NHL expansion franchise in 1997" (Bergen RECORD, 6/30). Evans said that Gaylord may not want full ownership of an NHL team: "Clearly, we are going to have to take the lead. But do we want to own 100 percent of it? Not necessarily" (TENNESSEAN, 6/30). A HOLE IN THE CASE? The Devils, who claim their lease extension was violated by actions taken by the NJSEA during the lockout, reportedly met with Target Center GM Dana Warg in October '93, according to Larry Brooks of the N.Y. POST. Brooks reports that Warg was invited to the Meadowlands for a meeting shortly after the North Stars left for Dallas. But "once informed the team had an enforceable lease through 2002," Warg ended talks with the Devils (N.Y. POST, 6/30). SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY? Evans expressed "bitterness toward New Jersey" during his press conference, and had the the following exchange with a RECORD reporter: "Why don't you go back to New Jersey? I'm tired of the Grand Ole Opry taking all these shots. ... Why the hell would anyone ever want to go to New Jersey? It's a hellhole. I lived in New York for 10 years and I fought to keep from going through the tunnel to that hellhole" (Bergen RECORD, 6/30). For more on the NHL's appeal in Nashville,.
Liberty Media's offer of $30M in cash to a new group seeking the Pirates could end up hurting the group's effort. Liberty, parent of PrimeSports KBL, is not seeking an equity stake in the team, but rather would count the funds as an advance towards securing the team's broadcast rights. MLB owners are said to be opposed to more teams being bought by "media conglomerates," and they also view pre-selling of broadcast rights as debt, not equity. The new group is led by CA newspaper heir Kevin McClatchy. Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy still wants to "salvage" the bid of John Rigas, which is "in limbo because it doesn't contain enough cash to service a heavy debt load" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 6/30).
Raiders Owner Al Davis is scheduled to appear at a U.S. Tax Court hearing on July 10 to appeal a deficiency notice claiming that the Raiders failed to pay federal income taxes "at the proper time" on $10M the team received in '87 from Irwindale, CA -- a deposit on promises to build a stadium. Team attorney Barrie Engal said the government is contending that what was characterized by Irwindale and the Raiders as a "loan" to the team should have been reported as taxable income on the next corporate return, but that the team "was two years late in reporting it as income and paying taxes on it." Xavier Hermosillo, a negotiator of the '87 agreement between Irwindale and the Raiders: "The issue is very clear. It was either a payment, a gift or a loan. Davis reported it as a loan. Was it ever paid back? The answer is no. It is income" (Kenneth Reich, L.A. TIMES, 6/30). NINERS PROTEST: In San Jose, Nancy Gay reports that the 49ers will protest the Raiders move to Oakland "every way they can" during an NFL special meeting on July 14. 49ers President Carmen Policy said that he is going to "play devil's advocate" as the league's owners consider the details of the lease agreement that Davis has signed. Policy: "I'm not sure it will (easily) go through -- unless the membership can be convinced that Davis is committed to Oakland for the duration of the 16-year lease agreement with the Oakland Coliseum" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/30). DONE DEAL: Malcolm Glazer's purchase of the Bucs for $192M is "expected to be closed" today at NationsBank's HQ in Charlotte. It is the largest franchise sale in the history of sports (Pat Yasinskas, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 6/30).