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"Four of pro basketball's greatest all-time stars, admitting disgust and embarrassment over the NBA lockout, yesterday angrily ripped a handful of player agents as the forces behind the current labor impasse, calling the advisors 'outsiders' motivated by ego and greed," according to Fred Kerber in today's NEW YORK POST. Bob Cousy, who was instrumental in establishing the NBPA in 1955: "Their greedy and destructive behavior, frankly, makes me ashamed and I guess a bit resentful that I played a role in starting all of this 40 years ago. They're threatening it, as far as I'm concerned, all in the name of ego and simply wanting more." Dave DeBusschere: "They're trying to allow outsiders to come in and to control this great game that we all helped build up." Oscar Robertson: "I don't think we can sit idly by and let this great game deteriorate, diminish with what's going on with the decertification process with players and their agents" (N.Y. POST, 7/21). More DeBusschere: "No one knows what would happen if the union was decertified. There could not be a season next year for all we know" (NEWSDAY, 7/20). Cousy appeared on "SportsCenter." He urged the players to "go in and meet with Simon Gourdine, with Buck Williams, with Charles Smith, the officers, and go in and simply voice their objections, their complaints, come to some agreement as to how they want their offices to go back to the NBA and modify the agreement. Do it within the system. Don't leave, because the NBA has threatened that if there is decertification and there is not an official body in place to negotiate with, they're not going to have a season (ESPN, 7/20). "OUTSIDERS" RESPOND: Agent Arn Tellem: "I think it's revealing that the only players who can come forward and criticize have been out of basketball for 25 years." Jeffrey Kessler, the antitrust lawyer representing the players seeking decertification: "It is very regrettable and really ironic that they would mention the issue of greed, since it is widely known that the players association is giving a portion of its $25 million in licensing money to the retired players. I'm a big fan of some of those players. But I have to question their motive here." When asked if the retired players had coordinated their comments with the NBA, Dennis Coleman, Exec Dir of the National Basketball Retired Players Association said: "This is none of Commissioner David Stern's business. This is the business for the Retired Players Association and for the good of the game." DeBusschere: "Our association is not involved in the collective bargaining process with the league or the players association. We're simply interested parties. We want to protect what we've built" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21). BE LIKE MIKE? NOT!: In an interview with Peter May in yesterday's BOSTON GLOBE, former Celtic and NBPA President Tommy Heinsohn said he "would tell Michael Jordan that he is selfish and greedy, that his agent is selfish and greedy, and that he and his ilk aren't kidding anybody." Heinsohn: "Michael Jordan and his ilk think they are the be-all and end-all. He's never bothered to find out what the union is all about. Well, he should. Because a lot of ex-players who paved the way for the game he is trying to rape are concerned." Heinsohn on decertification: "What these guys are doing is taking this thing into the Dark Ages. If they want to go back to what it was like when the union wasn't recognized, well, they don't have a clue what they're doing. They don't know how bad it can get. And these agents are using the players as tools and foils" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/20) FANS, MARK YOUR CALENDAR?: "Despite a lockout that threatens the start of the season," the NBA released yesterday its '95-96 schedule "along with a press release that noted it was contingent upon reaching a new labor deal in 'a timely fashion'" (BALTIMORE SUN/AP, 7/20). MARKETING CHALLENGE: Hawks President Stan Kasten: "We think we have an exciting team for next season, one that with a few additions can be quite successful. But try to promote it; try to sell tickets when you are not allowed to mention the names of your players. Believe me, it isn't easy" (Jeffrey Denberg, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/21). AND FINALLY ... Dennis Rodman was the guest on ESPN's "Up Close" yesterday. On the NBA lockout: "I think they're really going to ruin the game like baseball did. This game is too rich and too powerful to just try and throw it out the window and just say forget them, we're going to let you guys suffer ... It's just crazy. We should just go out there and get it done, and let's play" ("Up Close," 7/20).
As the JAL Big Apple Classic takes place this weekend in New Rochelle, NY, the New York media has turned its attention to the LPGA. Columns in today's N.Y. TIMES and N.Y. POST offer contrasting views on outgoing LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem. N.Y. TIMES: Mechem's view of the Ben Wright episode is summed up with -- "Exposure, that's what we need most." Columnist Robert Lipsyte calls Mechem's handling of the incident "a model of damage control," adding that the LPGA got "desperately needed ink and air time from the incident." Lipsyte also notes Mechem's initial trouble with sponsors, whose assumptions made it impossible for him to sell a piece of the game. Mechem: "I wish every male in the decision-making chain could experience the frustration and puzzlement I've encountered, the reality of discrimination that exists in women's issues" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21) N.Y. POST: Phil Mushnick's "Equal Time" column opens, "The 1995 Reggie Jackson Award for Phoniness in the Name of Protecting Sports goes to Charles S. Mechem, Jr., the soon-to-retire commissioner of the LPGA." Mushnick calls photo layouts of several players in the LPGA's "Fairway Magazine," an "absurd, insulting and poorly disguised attempt to promote sexuality" (N.Y. POST, 7/21).