SBD/21/Leagues Governing Bodies

SPREWELL'S $30M SUIT AGAINST NBA DECRIED AS WASTE OF TIME

          Warriors G Latrell Sprewell sued the Warriors and the
     NBA yesterday, "seeking lost wages and damages stemming from
     what his lawyers allege as excessive discipline for
     Sprewell's attack" on coach P.J. Carlesimo last December,
     according to Jesse Barkin of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS.  The
     suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges the team and
     league "made several transgressions -- including a violation
     of Sprewell's civil rights, racial discrimination and
     violation of antitrust and unfair business practices
     statutes at the federal and state level."   Sprewell is
     "seeking as much" as $30M, which takes into account lost
     wages of $6.4M, plus court costs, legal fees and damages
     (S.J. MERCURY NEWS, 5/21).  The suit also states that the
     league "demonized Sprewell with a 'massive' public-relations
     campaign that made him a scapegoat."  Also named in the suit
     were parties "X, Y, and Z," which will be fill-ins for
     potential defendants added later.  Sprewell was not present
     at the press conference, but is scheduled to make a public
     comment "in the near future," according to his legal
     advisor, Robert Gist.  In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes that the
     "breadth and the scope of the suit had many observers
     raising their eyebrows, but few jumped on the bandwagon." 
     The NBPA issued a statement that it "has not endorsed this
     lawsuit and has advised Mr. Sprewell's attorney against
     bringing this action" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In a
     statement, NBA Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin
     said, "This is a poorly disguised attempt by Mr. Sprewell's
     new attorneys to reargue claims that have already been
     rejected and put to rest by the arbitrator" (NBA).
          TIME FOR WAPNER: SI legal analyst Lester Munson said
     that Sprewell "is going to go 0-for-4 in this case.  His
     lawyers were sitting there at the press conference talking
     about punitive damages, treble damages, double jeopardy. 
     They misused almost all of these legal terms.  I think the
     outcome here is going to be that the NBA will not only win
     this case early but also Latrell Sprewell will end up paying
     the NBA's attorney's fees for getting this case dismissed"
     ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 5/20).  In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes
     that Sprewell's suit is "about revenge" and has "no chance." 
     Nevius: "This is a long longshot, and a play that a lot of
     major law firms wouldn't even begin to touch" (S.F.
     CHRONICLE, 5/21).  In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes Sprewell's
     suit is an example of the "sad tale of a professional sports
     league dying slowly at the hands of millionaires who are
     above the law. .... Sprewell isn't killing the NBA's
     integrity.  He's just here to bury it" (DENVER POST, 5/21). 
     In related news, George magazine named Sprewell one its 20
     most fascinating men in politics, saying he "finally set the
     bar for what the American public will tolerate from the
     modern pro athlete" (N.Y. POST, 5/21).
          PLAYERS WARNED TO CLEAN UP: In Seattle, Steve Kelley,
     under the header, "NBA Millionaires Continue To Act Anything
     But Civil," wrote, "Do the players really think the public
     is going to be on their side if owners follow through with
     their threat of a lockout?" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/20). 

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