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NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said that Warriors officials have told him that "some sort of olive branch might be extended or the door might be left ajar somewhat to give us the opportunity to work something out" regarding Latrell Sprewell's contract termination and one-year suspension, according to Chris Sheridan of the AP. Hunter said he had not spoken to NBA Commissioner David Stern, and NBA VP/Communications Brian McIntyre said he hadn't "heard anything about it (a compromise)" (AP/DETROIT NEWS, 12/11). ROUNDABOUT: Charles Barkley appeared on CNN's "Crossfire" last night and did "an abrupt about-face" on his call for NBA players to boycott certain events, including the league's All-Star Game. Barkley: "We're not going to boycott anything for Latrell Sprewell" (USA TODAY, 12/11). On MSNBC's "The Big Show," Barkley said his comments about boycotting were "a little inaccurate." Barkley: "That's directed toward the owners if they open up the [CBA]." Barkley, on the race issue: "I was disappointed that they brought in Johnnie Cochran, because this is not a white and black thing, this is a stupid thing one of our players did, and us trying to defend him." Barkley, on the state of the NBA: "[W]e as players and owners and coaches, we are just destroying the game" ("The Big Show," MSNBC, 12/10). BARKLEY BACKERS: Michael Jordan, on Barkley's boycott comments: "I always will support the players in whatever way I can" (Terry Armour, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/11). In N.Y., Seifman & Kernan write that players, including the Knicks' Chris Childs, "indicated yesterday they would back" any protest by Barkley (N.Y. POST, 12/11). SUPPORT FOR LEAGUE: A WALL STREET JOURNAL editorial supports the league's stance, stating NBA Commissioner David Stern "understands perfectly his role, which is protecting the value of his brand name" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11). LATE-NIGHT LAUGHS: On last night's "Late Show," David Letterman said that Johnnie Cochran has "a defense lined up for Latrell. He said, 'Latrell couldn't have possibly have strangled his coach because he was out playing golf at the time.'" Letterman's No. 3 "Sign You've Hired A Bad Department Store Santa": "Was recently suspended from the NBA for choking his coach" ("Late Show," CBS, 12/10). NBC's Jay Leno: "Latrell came off pretty good, he came off good. What better way to look honest than standing next to Johnnie Cochran?" ("Tonight Show," NBC, 12/10).
USA TODAY's Doug Smith reports that PGA Tour VP/Business Affairs Ric Clarson has been offered the job of WTA Tour CEO (USA TODAY, 12/11). WTA Tour Dir of Communications Joe Favorito told THE DAILY this morning that the Tour is still involved in negotiations with a possible replacement to Anne Person-Worcester, but that no final decision has been made (THE DAILY).
ESPN and ABC "could team up" with the WPVA and Leonard Armato's CA-based Management Plus to operate the tour, according to Mike Reynolds of CABLE WORLD. Sources say the discussions also include the possibility of a fourth party becoming an equity holder. Reynolds adds that the pending deal could take care of the "nearly" $1M the WPVA owes ABC for time buys during "its four broadcast windows" during the '97 season. WPVA Exec Dir Dave Williams said that "the shortfall stemmed from the departure of tour sponsors Coors Light and Killer Loop." Reynolds adds that a deal has been reached "in principle" that would let ABC televise four shows in '98, three of them live, while ESPN would air one- hour taped shows of the preceding week's championship match on Saturdays. ESPN and Management Plus declined comment on the story (Mike Reynolds, CABLE WORLD, 12/8 issue).