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NBA Commissioner David Stern denied the Knicks' protest of last Sunday's game against the Heat, although he "agreed that the call by the official Bob Delaney that disallowed Allan Houston's game-winning shot ... was wrong." Stern ruled that the error was "one of judgement, not a misapplication of the rules" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/15)....USA Hockey Exec Dir Dave Ogrean said it is "too early to tell what impact there might be from sponsors or donors" as a result of the U.S. men's hockey team's actions in Nagano. Ogrean added that all sponsors were signed up for deals of 2-7 years and "[n]o one has tried to bail out," but admitted that the team's actions "might affect" how sponsors evaluate future relationships (USA TODAY, 4/15)....Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig is profiled by Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Selig, on the state of MLB: "We have a great chance at an all-time attendance record, and that's without the expansion teams" (STAR TRIBUNE, 4/15).
With planning for the upcoming NFL season under way, "it is becoming apparent that the networks that agreed to pay the richest broadcasting-rights deal ever plan to make their advertisers pay the bill," and sports-marketing experts "believe the time could be right" for a new football league, according to Edward Moran of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. Industry sources say that execs at NBC and Turner have been directed from the "very top" to get plans for a new league going, and the decision to begin "could come by the end of the month." NBC Sports VP/Communications Ed Markey called the discussions "absolutely serious." Markey: "Perhaps by the end of the month we'll know more." Moran writes that while many believe the NBC/Turner plan has the "best chance" among any proposed new leagues of working, others think that "enough problems exist to stop them," including the quality of play and market oversaturation. But Saatchi & Saatchi VP Jack Irving said there is "a lot of backlash in the advertising industry regarding the existing [NFL] advertising opportunities right now ... If there is a new league with attractive prices with rating guarantees, you may see some fallout." But BBDO NY President Steve Grubbs said that he "has doubts" about a new league: "[I]t sounds like the CBA vs. the NBA" (DAILY NEWS, 4/15).