SBD/5/Leagues Governing Bodies

STERN AND JORDAN IN THE MIDDLE OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SNIT

          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).

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