"Four of pro basketball's greatest all-time stars, admitting
disgust and embarrassment over the NBA lockout, yesterday angrily
ripped a handful of player agents as the forces behind the
current labor impasse, calling the advisors 'outsiders' motivated
by ego and greed," according to Fred Kerber in today's NEW YORK
POST. Bob Cousy, who was instrumental in establishing the NBPA
in 1955: "Their greedy and destructive behavior, frankly, makes
me ashamed and I guess a bit resentful that I played a role in
starting all of this 40 years ago. They're threatening it, as
far as I'm concerned, all in the name of ego and simply wanting
more." Dave DeBusschere: "They're trying to allow outsiders to
come in and to control this great game that we all helped build
up." Oscar Robertson: "I don't think we can sit idly by and let
this great game deteriorate, diminish with what's going on with
the decertification process with players and their agents" (N.Y.
POST, 7/21). More DeBusschere: "No one knows what would happen
if the union was decertified. There could not be a season next
year for all we know" (NEWSDAY, 7/20). Cousy appeared on
"SportsCenter." He urged the players to "go in and meet with
Simon Gourdine, with Buck Williams, with Charles Smith, the
officers, and go in and simply voice their objections, their
complaints, come to some agreement as to how they want their
offices to go back to the NBA and modify the agreement. Do it
within the system. Don't leave, because the NBA has threatened
that if there is decertification and there is not an official
body in place to negotiate with, they're not going to have a
season (ESPN, 7/20).
"OUTSIDERS" RESPOND: Agent Arn Tellem: "I think it's
revealing that the only players who can come forward and
criticize have been out of basketball for 25 years." Jeffrey
Kessler, the antitrust lawyer representing the players seeking
decertification: "It is very regrettable and really ironic that
they would mention the issue of greed, since it is widely known
that the players association is giving a portion of its $25
million in licensing money to the retired players. I'm a big fan
of some of those players. But I have to question their motive
here." When asked if the retired players had coordinated their
comments with the NBA, Dennis Coleman, Exec Dir of the National
Basketball Retired Players Association said: "This is none of
Commissioner David Stern's business. This is the business for
the Retired Players Association and for the good of the game."
DeBusschere: "Our association is not involved in the collective
bargaining process with the league or the players association.
We're simply interested parties. We want to protect what we've
built" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21).
BE LIKE MIKE? NOT!: In an interview with Peter May in
yesterday's BOSTON GLOBE, former Celtic and NBPA President Tommy
Heinsohn said he "would tell Michael Jordan that he is selfish
and greedy, that his agent is selfish and greedy, and that he and
his ilk aren't kidding anybody." Heinsohn: "Michael Jordan and
his ilk think they are the be-all and end-all. He's never
bothered to find out what the union is all about. Well, he
should. Because a lot of ex-players who paved the way for the
game he is trying to rape are concerned." Heinsohn on
decertification: "What these guys are doing is taking this thing
into the Dark Ages. If they want to go back to what it was like
when the union wasn't recognized, well, they don't have a clue
what they're doing. They don't know how bad it can get. And
these agents are using the players as tools and foils" (BOSTON
FANS, MARK YOUR CALENDAR?: "Despite a lockout that
threatens the start of the season," the NBA released yesterday
its '95-96 schedule "along with a press release that noted it was
contingent upon reaching a new labor deal in 'a timely fashion'"
(BALTIMORE SUN/AP, 7/20).
MARKETING CHALLENGE: Hawks President Stan Kasten: "We
think we have an exciting team for next season, one that with a
few additions can be quite successful. But try to promote it;
try to sell tickets when you are not allowed to mention the names
of your players. Believe me, it isn't easy" (Jeffrey Denberg,
ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 7/21).
AND FINALLY ... Dennis Rodman was the guest on ESPN's "Up
Close" yesterday. On the NBA lockout: "I think they're really
going to ruin the game like baseball did. This game is too rich
and too powerful to just try and throw it out the window and just
say forget them, we're going to let you guys suffer ... It's just
crazy. We should just go out there and get it done, and let's
play" ("Up Close," 7/20).
As the JAL Big Apple Classic takes place this weekend in New
Rochelle, NY, the New York media has turned its attention to the
LPGA. Columns in today's N.Y. TIMES and N.Y. POST offer
contrasting views on outgoing LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem.
N.Y. TIMES: Mechem's view of the Ben Wright episode is
summed up with -- "Exposure, that's what we need most." Columnist
Robert Lipsyte calls Mechem's handling of the incident "a model
of damage control," adding that the LPGA got "desperately needed
ink and air time from the incident." Lipsyte also notes Mechem's
initial trouble with sponsors, whose assumptions made it
impossible for him to sell a piece of the game. Mechem: "I wish
every male in the decision-making chain could experience the
frustration and puzzlement I've encountered, the reality of
discrimination that exists in women's issues" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/21)
N.Y. POST: Phil Mushnick's "Equal Time" column opens, "The
1995 Reggie Jackson Award for Phoniness in the Name of Protecting
Sports goes to Charles S. Mechem, Jr., the soon-to-retire
commissioner of the LPGA." Mushnick calls photo layouts of
several players in the LPGA's "Fairway Magazine," an "absurd,
insulting and poorly disguised attempt to promote sexuality"
(N.Y. POST, 7/21).