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EBERSOL SEES NO NBA WORK STOPPAGE; MUTOMBO NOT SO CONFIDENT
Published June 2, 1998
NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol denied reports that NBA execs have told TV partners to expect a work stoppage during CBA negotiations, according to Howard Manly of the BOSTON GLOBE. Ebersol: "It's not true. In fact, I have been told not to anticipate a work stoppage" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/2). On ESPN SportsZone, Jeffrey Denberg reports that NBPA VP Dikembe Mutombo has told team reps not to attend Monday's scheduled meeting with league negotiators. Mutombo: "What's the point? Why should they go for nothing? They want to do away with the Bird exception. They want a hard (salary) cap. They want to tax teams who spend more. We can't live with that. ... They want to cut us back to 48 percent (of gross revenues). We can't accept this, so there is no point in talking." More Mutombo: "At first, I thought they wanted a new drug policy and to modify some things. But now I think they want everything and it can't happen" (ESPN, 6/2). PLAYERS ASK, "WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT WILLIS?" In N.Y., George Willis calls on the NBA to instill a hard salary cap in the next CBA, similar to one in the NFL. Willis writes that the NFL's system "forces players into truthful analysis of their worth," while right now, "there is little sense of stability in the NBA. ... [W]hen you hear of third-year players ... signing $100 million contracts, you wonder how long the Minnesotas can survive." Willis concludes that "all deals should be tied to performance, production and maintenance of civil behavior. If the NBA union and owners can ever agree on that, maybe they can rescue a game they're about to screw up" (George Willis, N.Y. POST, 6/1). MATHIS SENTENCED: Former NBA ref Mike Mathis was sentenced Friday to three years probation after pleading guilty to tax fraud. He was fined $2,000, sentenced to 120 days of home confinement and asked to perform more than 200 hours of community service. Mathis was also "ordered" to continue and cooperate with the U.S. government's investigation of league's referees (ESPN SportsZone, 5/30). RI-UNITE ON ICE: Michael Ri, a 7' 8" North Korean basketball player, is awaiting State Department "approval" for clearance to play in the NBA. Washington, DC, lobbyist Eric White has asked CA's Democratic U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein to assist in getting Ri's exemption. The Treasury Department has already approved Ri's request and Nike has also come aboard and "added its clout to the project" (Peter May, BOSTON GLOBE, 5/31).