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Volume 24 No. 155
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     In the January 30 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, which hits
the stands today, NBA-beat writer Phil Taylor takes on the NBA's
"Bad Actors" -- the "pouting prima donnas" whose actions are
"threatening to infect every team in the league."  Nets guard Rex
Walters: "We've got one millionaire who won't tie a 10-cent pair
of shoelaces when the coach tells him to, to an even richer
millionaire who complains he doesn't want to wear a tie on a
plane." In his piece, Taylor warns, "Don't look around the
league, because you won't like what you see. The NBA has more
whiny youngsters than a day-care center at nap time."  Knicks
coach Pat Riley says the "self-centered, greed-oriented, defiant
attitude" is "so rampant it is going to bring down the league one
day."  NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik, although less
"troubled by the misbehavior," did say, "It would be foolish to
say we don't have any concern about it."
     WHAT'S BEHIND IT?  Taylor outlines examples and possible
explanations for the current state of the game.  For the players,
the "lucrative" guaranteed contracts "can profoundly warp their
view of life in the league," making them more important and less
expendable than their head coach.  The immediate pressures to
preform and turn around sagging franchises. In this area,
longtime veteran Danny Ainge blames expansion, arguing had it not
been for the new teams, young stars would "be going to teams that
are already established and you could give them more time to
mature."  Taylor writes "many believe that the league's
discipline problems mirror those of society" while others "blame
the league's marketing strategy for encouraging selfishness."
Pacers coach Larry Brown:  "The bottom line is that this is the
greatest team game going, and we're doing everything in our power
-- from the rules to the publicity to the image we're creating --
 to make it an individual sport.  There's very little talk about
team.  We don't sell that.  We try to establish stars, and this
(prima donna syndrome) is what you get."   Bulls guard Steve
Kerr: "It used to be, 'Wow, did you see that Lakers-Celtics
game?' Now it's more like, 'Did you see the latest video game or
commercial?'  They've created a different image than what started
this whole boom" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 1/30 issue).
     STERN RESPONDS: Commissioner David Stern was not quoted in
the piece, but responds this weekend on the SITV-produced "From
the Pages of Sports Illustrated" on ABC's "Wide World of Sports."
Stern says the media is a source of some of the problem: "There
are always a half-dozen players out of 350 who have a particular
thing going on.  But those (players) also happen to be the
lighting rod for the media."  Stern noted Hakeem Olajuwon, Pat
Ewing and John Stockton as positive examples (SPORTS