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NBA'S LABOR DAZE: IS BIRD EXEMPTION RUINOUS TO VETERANS?
Published June 8, 1998
NBA veterans "have been duped by the superstars and their agents into thinking" that the "Larry Bird Exemption" was in the "best interest of all players," according to Dwight Jaynes of the Portland OREGONIAN. Jaynes: "It isn't. And it will be interesting to see what will happen within the union if the vast, silent majority of players wakes up and understands that if the big stars don't have the ability to make $15 million per season, there will be more money for the rest of them." But he wrote that the players are not "going to listen until they face one harsh reality: It's better to be working for a fair and, in fact, sizable wage than it is to be locked out of [a] job and earning nothing while in search of even more money" (OREGONIAN, 6/5). LOCKOUT WATCH: In Denver, Mike Monroe wrote that at a time "when the league should be reveling in its glorious fascination, everyone connected with the sport is holding his or her breath." He wrote that a lockout "appears inevitable," and added, "Count on it." NBA owners "felt strongly enough about fundamental change that they decided the risk" of re-opening the CBA "was worth it" (DENVER POST, 6/7). In Seattle, Steve Kelley, a self-professed NBA fan, wrote, "There is a growing public cynicism about the NBA; a belief among the ticket-buying public that the players and the owners have forgotten about the fans. A work stoppage would feed that cynicism" (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/5). In St. Paul, Tom Powers wrote the NBA's image "is about to take a major hit ... all because of labor problems" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 6/7). In Charlotte, Rick Bonnell wrote that any NBA team employee who discusses labor issues faces a $1M fine by the league. Bonnell, after attending the pre-draft camp in Chicago: "Everyone I spoke with is convinced there's no compromise in sight" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 6/7). In San Antonio, Glenn Rogers on why the union and league can't reach a sensible financial solution: "What's lacking is any semblance of trust, on either side" (EXPRESS NEWS, 6/6). WORLD PARTY: The Spurs will play the Clippers on December 12 at Mexico City's Palacio de los Deportes. OCESA Presenta will serve as the local promoter for the game (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS NEWS, 6/8). In France, the CHICAGO TRIBUNE's Philip Hersh wrote that soccer "remains the world's most popular sport, but basketball has made tremendous gains in the last decade, especially in Asia and Africa." In France, basketball "has become the most popular sport for many adolescents, especially in the poor suburbs of Paris that are home to many Arabs and black African immigrants" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/7). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Jerry Crasnick wrote under the header, "Could Baseball Benefit From Michael Jordan's Retirement?" Andy Berlin, from N.Y. ad agency Berlin, Cameron & Partners: "Basketball has its act together more than the NFL or baseball. It's a far more professional marketing organization. Go to Kenya and you'll see people wearing Chicago Bulls shirts" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/5). NOTES: Heat President & Exec VP/Business Jay Cross: "We definitely would lose more money by playing next season than not playing" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/8). In Akron, Chris Tomasson is writing a five-part series on the state of the NBA. Part One on Sunday examined the "issues and problems facing the sport"; Part Two today looks at the "rising players salaries" (BEACON JOURNAL 6/7-9). In Boston, Peter May: "Can it be true that the IRS is going to drop the hammer on as many as 15 referees after the playoffs?" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/7). In Chicago, Sam Smith wrote of talk that the IRS "agreed to hold off until later this month indictments of a number of top" refs (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/7).