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Volume 24 No. 155

Sports Industrialists

     At a postgame news conference, Michael Jordan "sounded like
a professorial elder statesman, saying he came back to help
change the image of a league criticized for its young, spoiled
stars":  "I really felt that I wanted to instill some positive
things back into the game.  There are a lot of negative things
that have been happening to the game, and I guess in terms of my
coming back, I come back with the notion of the Magic Johnsons
and the Larry Birds and the Dr. J's and all those players who
paved the road for a lot of these young guys" (Melissa Isaacson,
CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/20). Jordan's statements "made it clear
whatever the ratio of knuckleheads to professionals is, it's way
too high for his liking" (Bryan Burwell, USA TODAY, 3/20).  in
L.A., Mark Heisler writes, "It's morning again in the NBA" (L.A.
TIMES, 3/19).  NBC's Bob Costas:  "In a sports world darkened by
constant talk of money, strikes and lockouts, here's a shining
reminder of why we're drawn to sports in the first place.  The
drama, the anticipation, the sheer beauty of the moment.  Today,
an artist returns to his true canvas the hardwood court of the
NBA" ("NBA on NBC," 3/19).
     THE DEAL:  According to NEWSWEEK, Jordan will earn $46,000-
a-game, or about $1M for the rest of the regular season.  The
weekly also reports that Jordan's agreement includes assurances
that Scottie Pippen and B.J. Armstrong will remain with the team
(NEWSWEEK, 3/27 issue).  There is an NBA moratorium on contract
negotiations until there is a new CBA keeping Jordan and the
Bulls from talking about a new deal (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/19).
Jordan said he did not go into talks with Pippen's future in
mind:  "Of course, I asked about some things" (Mitch Lawrence,
N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/20).  Bulls Owner Jerry Reinsdorf said he
expects Jordan to play three to four more years (CHICAGO TRIBUNE,
     THE CYNICS?  A few columnists made references to Jordan's
rumored gambling as a reason for his hiatus.  In Denver, Bob
Kravitz writes: "Did he really return for what he called 'the
love of the game?'  Or is he merely finishing off an unannounced
1 1/2-year ban for his gambling excesses?' ... I don't believe
there was some backroom deal or some dirty little secret" (ROCKY
MOUNTAIN NEWS, 3/20).  In Baltimore, Ken Rosenthal writes, "And
so Michael Jordan's 17-month gambling suspension is over.  That's
what it was, not that anyone will admit it, not that anyone
cares, now that we all get to breathe some fresh Air" (Baltimore
SUN, 3/19).  Reinsdorf:  "Are you telling me then, if he was such
a hot potato, that he could go right to baseball, which has even
stricter rules about that stuff than basketball?" (CHICAGO
TRIBUNE, 3/19).
     ODDS & ENDS:  Jordan had his shorts on backwards during the
game, with the NBA logo facing the wrong way.  Hoop writer Kent
Gilchrist wonders if he was marking his return with a fashion
statement (Vancouver PROVINCE, 3/20).

     NHL Commissioner GARY BETTMAN, Rangers GM & President NEIL
SMITH and Rangers captain MARK MESSIER led the contingent at a
Rose Garden ceremony during which PRESIDENT CLINTON was presented
with a miniature Stanley Cup and a Rangers jersey.  Clinton:
"We've been trying to arrange this visit for some time, but
what's a few months to 54 years" (THE DAILY)....Blazers owner and
Microsoft co-founder PAUL ALLEN will become the "majority outside
investor" in DreamWorks, the new entertainment company being
formed by Steven Speilberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Allen will reportedly invest about $500M, giving him a stake
"equal to or just under 20%" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/20)....
Royals VP GEORGE BRETT is negotiating to buy the Duluth Dukes of
the Northern League, with RUSH LIMBAUGH as one of his partners
(Peter Gammons, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19)....The NHL has hired KEN
ROSEN away from NBA Entertainment. He will now be in charge of
NHL Productions, a new division in charge of various video
productions (Kevin Paul Dupont, BOSTON GLOBE, 3/19).... Sources
say JIM CORNO, VP/GM of SportsChannel Chicago, has expressed an
interest in becoming President of MSG Network (Bob Raissman, N.Y.
DAILY NEWS, 3/19)....BONNIE BLAIR was interviewed on ABC's "Good
Morning America" on her retirement from skating.  Blair:
"Hopefully I have brought the sport to a newer level, a higher
level, and given some others something to chase, something to go
for.  But I am going out on top.  I am happy" (ABC, 3/20).