SBD/17/Leagues Governing Bodies

WNBA GETS NIKKI: WILL OTHER PLAYERS SOON BE ON THE MOVE?

          The ABL's '96 MVP Nikki McCray officially changed
     leagues yesterday and signed with the WNBA.  In a statement,
     ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said, "Nikki is an excellent player,
     and we will miss her.  But the sun still came up this
     morning, and the ABL is alive and well."  Cavalli said that
     in her contract negotiations, McCray asked for a salary that
     was more than three times as much of other '96 U.S.
     Olympians in the ABL.  She also requested the first right of
     refusal on all major endorsement deals offered to ABL
     players.  He called the demands "unrealistic, excessive, and
     unfair to the other players in the league" (ABL).
          DETAILS: McCray's attorney, DC-based Lon Babby, said
     that McCray turned down a more lucrative offer from the ABL
     but that the "key" to her decision were the "promotional
     opportunities" (Amy Shipley, WASHINGTON POST, 9/17). 
     Cavalli called McCray's request for the right of first
     refusal on endorsement deals "outrageous," adding, "There's
     no way a league could ever agree to something like that"
     (Aaron Portzline, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/16). In Philadelphia,
     Mel Greenberg reports that McCray "is expected to become
     another WNBA player spokeswomen, joining Rebecca Lobo,
     Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie, who all received reported
     $250,000 deals."  McCray, "one of the few" ABL players who
     initially signed a one-year deal, on the WNBA: "Watching
     their season this year, they generated a lot of fan support"
     (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17).  More McCray: "It went back
     and forth daily, and I pretty much decided over the weekend"
     (Bobby Hall, COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/17).  McCray: "The ABL was
     a success last year, but just looking at the whole situation
     ... and the two proposals that were made to me, I felt the
     WNBA was the best choice for me" (ESPN, 9/16).
          WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? In Washington, Amy Shipley
     writes the move is "yet another signal that the ABL will be
     hard-pressed to stand up to the enormous power of the NBA-
     backed WNBA."  But Shipley adds a "flurry of defections is
     unlikely to be precipitated by McCray's move" (WASHINGTON
     POST, 9/17).  Cavalli: "Is it war?  No.  But it is open
     season" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17).  More Cavalli: "A
     number of W.N.B.A. players have contacted us about moving
     after the coming season and we will talk to them."  WNBA
     President Val Ackerman: "We are very interested in
     attracting the best players we can find, wherever they come
     from" (Frank Litsky, N.Y. TIMES, 9/17).  In N.Y., Ursula
     Reel examines the two leagues and writes, "Things aren't
     looking too good for the ABL."  Reel adds that ABL execs and
     players "wonder how they've become the 'other league' when
     their league came first" (N.Y. POST, 9/17).
          CHANGE LEAGUES AND GAMES? USA TODAY's Valerie Lister
     reports that McCray doesn't have any endorsements yet, but
     "is negotiating a contract" with Fila (USA TODAY, 9/17).

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