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Arenas Receives Third-Longest
Suspension In NBA History
STERN WARNING: Stern during an interview on NBA TV last night noted guns in the locker room violates the league's CBA and said, "They'd been warned about that at the beginning of each season in writing and with a visit from team security to team meetings." He added, "I decided that it just can't be tolerated and each of them was suspended for the rest of the year. ... I would've done more if I didn't believe their contrition and their sincerity." When asked if the players' violation of DC law or NBA policy was "more significant," Stern said, "NBA policy. It's not that the other isn't significant, but it doesn't concern me at the moment. At the moment, what I was dealing with was players who violated a specific prohibition agreed to by their union and the NBA that there will not be guns in any NBA facilities. They violated that, put themselves in potential danger and they put their teammates in potential danger. It's nothing that we're going to tolerate." Stern added he agreed to sit with Hunter outside of collective bargaining meetings and discuss "how we can deliver the message even stronger than we do today that guns will not be tolerated in NBA facilities" (NBA TV, 1/27). Stern yesterday also said, "If there's any doubt to any of our players about it in the future, we will be dealing with this in an even more severe way" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/28). ESPN's Marc Stein said, "Having guns on league property is what really took this thing to a new level. ... Stern wanted to send a very loud message here that nobody better even think about trying this again" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/27).
DON'T PLAY WITH FIREARMS: When asked about what "message the penalties sent" to NBA players, Stern said, "We mean what we say when we say that guns are prohibited from being in our buildings and on team business." He added, "I felt that I should do something to keep Arenas from doing even further damage to himself and I told him that." NBPA President and Lakers G Derek Fisher said, "We respect that process, but from a union perspective we have to protect the short-term and long-term rights of our members, and when members do wrong things or make mistakes, they'll be rightfully punished, and we're just here to make sure that that doesn't go beyond what it should be under the circumstances" (ESPN.com, 1/27).
Some Sources Surprised Arenas'
Suspension Did Not Exceed This Season
STERN TAKES THE EARLY LEAD: CBSSPORTS.com's Ken Berger wrote the NBA is "headed for a lockout after next season, and Stern scored the first negotiating victory" yesterday by getting Arenas to accept his suspension without an appeal. Berger cited a source as saying that Hunter offered Stern a "plea bargain by which Arenas and Javaris Crittenton would get leniency in exchange for strengthening" the CBA's prohibition on guns. But Stern "smacked that idea out of the air." Berger: "Make no mistake: It was a sign of things to come." If this situation is "any barometer, Stern let everybody know who's in charge." He played Arenas and Crittenton into a "cataclysmic opening salvo in the looming dispute between owners and players" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/27).
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD? ESPN's Stein reported the "consensus around the league is that the Wizards would love to void (Arenas') contract if they could be successful doing so." However, there is "almost unanimous agreement that trying to void Arenas' contract wouldn’t be successful. ... So really the only way the Wizards could go forward with a contract void is if Arenas is sentenced to jail time during the season" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 1/27). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser: "They'll move to void the contract. He'll never play for them again. … This is like what happened to Michael Vick" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/27). CBS' Berger noted "short of a trade, the only solution to rid the Wizards of Arenas -- and vice versa -- would be a buyout reaching into the tens of millions." However, with the "transfer of ownership from the family of the late Abe Pollin" to Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis "still up in the air, that's not a realistic option." Meanwhile, Berger noted Arenas will forfeit a total of about $7.1M during the unpaid suspension. A source noted that the money "typically is divided evenly between the NBA and players association charitable foundations." The source added that the league and the union also could "agree to let the Wizards keep the money." But in either case the Wizards "get no break on their luxury tax bill" (CBSSPORTS.com, 1/27).
Woods Notably Absent From
Farmers Insurance Open Today
TICKETS, SPONSORSHIPS DOWN: USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy reports Woods' absence is "taking a toll on tournament sales." Farmers Insurance Open Tournament Dir Tom Wilson said that ticket and sponsorship sales are "down 15%-20% at Torrey Pines from the last time Woods played" in '08, though sales are "about even" with '09. McCarthy notes other tournaments Woods "normally plays will have a harder time selling tickets and attracting sponsors" without his presence, and if "recent history is a guide, TV ratings will be sliced in half for those events." CBS Sports Senior VP/Programming Rob Correa: "There'll probably be a ratings dip in the Tiger events. But we're confident established stars like Phil Mickelson and new ones like Anthony Kim will pick up the slack" (USA TODAY, 1/28).
PHIL-OSOPHY: GOLF.com's Cameron Morfit wrote to "say that all eyes will be on" Mickelson this weekend "would be an understatement." Mickelson is the "Pitt to Tiger's Clooney, and seldom has golf needed him more." Golf Channel is "promoting its next month or so as 'Five weeks of Phil,' because the game is desperate for a story other than the one the tabloids and mainstream news outlets have feasted on for months" (GOLF.com, 1/26). Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said the two events played in Hawaii earlier this month and last weekend's Bob Hope Classic "were a little subdued." Rymer: "All of that is going to change this week because (Mickelson) is teeing it up in San Diego. Make no mistake about it, the Phil-fanatics will be out in force. The energy level will be high" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 1/26). In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. writes golf "needs sunshine, and that's what Mickelson brings this week" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/28). Golf World's John Hawkins, on Mickelson: "He needs to be playing and he needs to be front and center because he is basically all we've got right now in terms of mainstream pull" ("The 19th Hole," Golf Channel, 1/27).
Mickelson (l), Woods Top The Bloomberg
BusinessWeek 2010 Power 100 Ranking