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FOOTBALL: USA TODAY's Gordon Forbes writes on the franchise fee for the Browns and wonders, "Is [Cowboys Owner] Jerry Jones playing mind games with the bidders by predicting a $700M bid?" Jones: "I don't think I'm being overly optimistic. Remember, I'm the guy who said the NFL was in the position of having television revenues double" (USA TODAY, 6/5)...The Marquee Group's Mike Trager, on the NBC/Turner proposed football league: "We did the research on the All-American League, which is similar to NBC's and Turner's model. Our research found a demand for another pro football league in the spring-summer" (USA TODAY, 6/5). SEEKING SPONSORS: Women's Sports Foundation Exec Dir Donna Lopiano and Silver Bullets manager Phil Niekro will travel to Hartford in the next few weeks for "discussions with potential sponsors" for the team (HART. COURANT, 6/5).
While the NBA and NBPA "continue to talk," discussions in recent weeks "indicate a lockout by the owners is on the horizon," according to David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik: "I have to acknowledge that we're getting closer (to a lockout) since time is going by. I'd feel better if we were meeting a little more often and making more progress. But we're not totally discouraged yet" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 6/5). MEET THE PRESS: Granik and NBA Commissioner David Stern met the media in Salt Lake City to discuss the state of the league. Stern, on the possibility of a work stoppage: "We've been through work stoppages before, and while it's true we haven't lost regular-season games, we know the magic words of strike and lockout" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/5). Stern: "We're not trying to run away from the payments, but we need to slow the growth. The notion that you simply decide to lose hundreds of millions of dollars a year is not a principle that I'm familiar with, in terms of any business around the world." Stern, on the previous CBA: "Have we made mistakes at the bargaining table in the past? The answer is yes. But the system is not working now." At the press conference, Stern pulled out a 1982 clip from Sports Illustrated -- "not because it is the most reliable publication but because it takes itself the most seriously" -- that questioned who would take the mantle in the post- Magic Johnson and Larry Bird era (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/5). Stern: "Guess what? Somebody did replace them, and a whole group of players did" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/5). FROM THE PLAYERS: Jazz F Antoine Carr, on a work stoppage: "It's the stupidest thing we could ever do on either side. ... We could end up with 3,000 or 4,000 people in the stands like the old time" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/5). Jazz F Chris Morris: "There's going to be one ... (and) it's going to hurt a lot of people" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 6/5). REAX: In Chicago, Sam Smith: "It's clear the two sides are growing close to a serious dispute. Top team officials say the league has been notifying them in recent days to prepare for a long dispute that possibly interrupts next season" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/5). In Orange County, Mark Whicker writes that Stern "seems almost resigned to a lockout" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 6/5). In S.F., David Steele reports that the situation Stern painted yesterday "could not have been more bleak. Nor could he have presented the chances of avoiding an owners' lockout as being more remote" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/5). In Philadelphia, Mike Bruton writes the "foreboding storm clouds of labor unrest are gathering." He says that both sides "should cut the posturing and find some imagination to deal with this complex situation" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/5). In Milwaukee, D. Orlando Ledbetter writes that the "league has never lost a game to a strike and it knows now is not the time to set any ugly precedents" (JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/5).
NBA Commissioner David Stern "stopped short of calling them unpatriotic, but he did question the wisdom of players who are considering boycotting this summer's world championships in Athens," according to Mike Wise of the N.Y. TIMES. Stern: "If the individual players decide to trash their country, that's going to be their decision." Stern's comments earned a response from Michael Jordan, who said he would support a boycott of the games in the case of a lockout in "a heartbeat." Jordan: "If you're going to try to handcuff one side, we have to retaliate." NBA Deputy Commissioner and USA Basketball President Russ Granik "warned that such a boycott could influence" the U.S.' chances of automatically qualifying for the 2000 Olympics. He said the team may be forced to play in a qualifying tournament which would take place during the '99-2000 NBA season. But NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said he was looking into whether the U.S. team could receive a bye since it won the '96 gold medal. Hunter said "he was mindful of the players possibly being betrayed as unpatriotic if they boycotted the games." Wise: "Because players signed contracts with USA Basketball, Stern is mostly wringing his hands when it comes to the league's involvement." But Hunter said, "We could argue we think USA Basketball is the alter ego" of the NBA (N.Y. TIMES, 6/5). In Miami, Steve Wyche adds that Stern "tried to distance the NBA from USA Basketball" and "seemed to be putting pressure on the players" who have already committed to the event. He also said that if the players do boycott, "many of their individual sponsors ... may not be pleased" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/5). Stern: "What USA Basketball is going to do is not my problem, nor my owners' problem" (USA TODAY, 6/5). WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE? In Houston, Eddie Sefko notes a source saying that USA Basketball will send letters to players in "about" 10 days asking them of their intentions. If the NBA players do not participate, USA Basketball "will scramble to find an alternate team" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 6/5). In Toronto, Craig Daniels writes the World Championships have "become a hostage to the looming collective bargaining war" (TORONTO SUN, 6/5). NOT THE BATTLE YOU WANT? In Minneapolis, Steve Aschburner writes that Jordan and Stern, the "two most powerful men in the NBA ... squared off" over the World Championships issue (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/5). In L.A., Mark Heisler writes that Stern "found himself in a spat with his star of stars" (L.A. TIMES, 6/5).
The fledgling Premiere Soccer Alliance (PSA) has added the former CISL Sacramento franchise, the Knights, for the '98 season, joining teams in Dallas, Portland and Arizona. The Knights are owned by NBA Kings Owner Jim Thomas and are a part of his Capital Sports group. The four teams, playing at the Rose Garden, Arco Arena, Reunion Arena and Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, will play an exhibition-type schedule in '98, in addition to games against All-Star teams from Argentina, Italy, Mexico and Brazil. PSA President Gordon Jago told THE DAILY that the PSA expects to field an eight- to 10-team league to begin play in August '99. He hopes to add three more former CISL teams to the PSA in '99, with an eventual goal of a 16-team league. Jago is touting the PSA's business plan which does not require a franchise fee or a league assessment in '99. The league will not have a Commissioner, and instead, each franchise owner will have one vote, with majority rule (THE DAILY). GOOOOAALLLS: Within the next week, Jago said the PSA hopes to announce a CEO and a partnership with an agency to handle all league-wide marketing and media deals. In addition, the PSA is looking to land a national league-wide sponsor by the fall. Jago said the PSA "is not really interested" in a national TV deal, but would like to develop a national 30-minute weekly highlight show. Jago: "From a sponsorship viewpoint, it's a better bet than one or two games and out. ... It's something we could sell far better than a two-hour game." Individual teams will be permitted to create their own local TV deals (THE DAILY). COMPETITION GOOD FOR YOU? Jago said that the PSA "will continue talks" about forming a partnership with the NPSL, the 13-team league that plays from October to March. While Jago has "heard rumors" about the possibility of a re-formed CISL beginning play in '99, he said the PSA is moving ahead with its plan: "I believe there has to be one league, I don't think there's enough [resources] for two leagues." In addition, PSA Dir of Communications Andy McNamara told THE DAILY that CISL player contracts will "become null and void after June." McNamara said that while the PSA has had no contact with the CISL, they hope to reach an "out-of-court settlement" regarding the use of former CISL team names and logos. McNamara, on the possibility of the two leagues joining forces: "A lot of things would have to change, but we'd never shut the door completely" (THE DAILY). C-YA LATER? Former CISL Commissioner Ron Weinstein told THE DAILY that his suspended league is in the process of reforming and "most likely" will begin play next summer. He said the league will be a solely-funded, independent operation consisting of NBA/NHL team owners or those who own or operate their own facilities. He said talks are ongoing about securing a "major" cable TV deal (THE DAILY).