SBD/4/Franchises

WILL LEGAL ACTION BEGIN AFTER WARRIORS CUT TIES TO SPREWELL?

          The Warriors "terminated" the contract of Latrell
     Sprewell last night, "in essence, firing him" two days after
     he attacked Coach P.J. Carlesimo in practice, according to
     David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE.  GM Garry St. Jean made
     the announcement following the team's game last night at the
     Oakland Arena: "It was not an economical decision.  It was
     about morals and ethics and the right thing to do.  And the
     organization stands very strong with its moral beliefs." 
     Sprewell will lose the remainder of his salary for this
     year, which is $7.7M, and the $17.3M he was due for the
     following two seasons.  He was placed on waivers and can
     sign with any team if he is not claimed within 48 hours. 
     The team "invoked clauses concerning good conduct and
     citizenship included in the standard player contract" and
     the CBA.  The NBA had no comment last night, but the
     "possibility remains that Sprewell could be banned by the
     league from playing for part of this season or longer." 
     NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said the union would appeal the
     termination.  Steele: "It was the first time an NBA player
     has had his contract terminated for insubordination" (S.F.
     CHRONICLE, 12/4).  The AP reports that "some NBA players
     have a personal conduct guarantee in their contracts that
     prohibits teams from terminating them based upon their
     behavior.  Sprewell, however, had no such protection"
     (AP/ESPN SportsZone, 12/4).  In N.Y., Mike Wise writes that
     the action "sets the table for a bitter legal battle"
     between the team and the NBPA (Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 12/4). 
          SPRE-SPEECH: In his first public comments yesterday,
     Sprewell "refused to apologize" to Carlesimo, and added
     that, "All the frustrations had built up to the point where
     I couldn't take it anymore."  More Sprewell: "I totally
     don't condone this behavior, but I just got to the point
     where I couldn't take it anymore" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). 
          FROM THE WARRIORS: More from St. Jean: "There is no
     issue to compromise.  Outrageous misconduct by players in
     professional sports has been tolerated for too long.  We are
     drawing the line.  Some things are more important than
     winning or losing games" (Ric Bucher, WASHINGTON POST,
     12/4).  In San Jose, Ann Killion writes that the Warriors'
     move "makes sense to average folks, and it will probably
     help" the team's PR profile, but "that doesn't mean this is
     the end of the Warriors' problems.  First, the Warriors
     don't even know if their action will stand up legally."  St.
     Jean: "We have confidence in the NBA" (MERCURY NEWS, 12/4). 
          NATIONAL REAX: In Chicago, Lacy Banks writes under the
     header, "Sprewell Incident Wounds League" (SUN-TIMES, 12/4). 
     In Akron, Terry Pluto writes under the header, "These NBA
     Guys Need A Swift Kick."  Pluto, on Sprewell and Scottie
     Pippen: "I'm just sick of some of these guys. ... Maybe if
     you play in the NBA, you know that the rules of common
     decency and respect for your employer and co-workers don't
     apply" (BEACON JOURNAL, 12/4).  USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti,
     under the header, "NBA Could Soon Choke On Its Troubles,"
     writes "here in a sport with one more bruise on an image
     that has been defaced enough. ... Something ails the NBA and
     its world of quick money and quick tempers.  Sprewell is not
     the sickness, only the latest symptom" (USA TODAY, 12/4). 
     In Seattle, Steve Kelly wrote under the header, "Hey, Kids 
     -- NBA Isn't So Fan-Tastic Anymore."  Kelly: "Don't believe
     the slick commercials. ... [T]his NBA season is off to a
     foundering start. ... The NBA has problems" (SEATTLE TIMES,
     12/3).  On ABC's "Good Morning America," the Warriors' move
     was discussed by host Lisa McRee and Mike Lupica.  After
     watching a video clip of the Warriors' St. Jean announcing
     Sprewell's termination, McRee noted, "Boy, even crew members
     are saying 'Yes!' when they hear that" ("GMA," ABC, 12/4). 
          CONVERSE SUPPORT: Converse said it "doesn't plan to
     fire" Sprewell as a spokesperson, according to BLOOMBERG's
     Scott Newman.  Converse signed Sprewell in '94 to a deal
     that the company says contains "a morals clause that would
     allow it to end the agreement."  Converse VP/Marketing &
     Communications Jennifer Murray: "Latrell's behavior is
     inexcusable, unsportsmanlike, and something that we in no
     way condone.  But he remains one of our endorsers and is
     still under contract with us" (CONTA COSTA TIMES, 12/3).

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