The NBPA concluded its series of regional meetings yesterday
in Baltimore, and union head Simon Gourdine says "he was more
than pleased with the overall turnout of 99 players during the
whirlwind 12 day tour," according to Richard Justice in today's
WASHINGTON POST. Gourdine: "We accomplished what we set out to
do. ... The groups were small enough that guys could follow up
their questions with whatever was on their mind." Four players
attended the Baltimore meeting: Dikembe Mutombo, Tom Gugliotta,
Danny Ferry and Brent Price. Mutombo: "I think I'll vote for
it. In life, you're not going to get everything you want."
Gugliotta: "I feel a lot better after talking to Simon. I've
been so out of touch this summer. We've got to accept the fact
that we didn't get everything we wanted. But I can't see
forfeiting the season or even a month of it over the
differences." Gourdine: "The loyal opposition has put a lot of
information out there. Some things were an easy rebuttal.
Others I couldn't sugarcoat. When raises go from 30 percent to
20 percent, there are not too many things we gave up. We also
think there are enough increases in revenues and a broadening of
the deal that it makes sense. There are a lot of things the
players should feel good about" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/29).
SHAQ BACKS DEAL: Shaquille O'Neal, in a statement
yesterday: "The new collective bargaining agreement may not be
that great for the players, but I support it because we have to
learn from what happened in baseball. We owe it to the fans,
sponsors, and ourselves to not lose any of the season. Accepting
the compromise is the only way to ensure doing that" (Tim Povtak,
ORLANDO SENTINEL, 8/29).
US, TOO!: Charles Barkley: "Ninety percent of the players
cannot afford the strike. I'm blessed. I'm one of the other 10
percent. I don't have to work another day in my life.
Realistically, I don't want to leave those other players out
there. I think the deal will be accepted. We've got to try to
do what's best for the majority of the players." Sixers' Jerry
Stackhouse: "Everybody wants a check in November. Some guys are
undecided and some guys are against it, but my gut feeling is
that it's going to go through" (Joe Juliano, PHILADELPHIA
INQUIRER, 8/29). Former Spur Terry Cummings: "I see the union
as a Rolls Royce with maybe a dent in it. You don't throw away
the car because of the dent, you just fix it. ... If they
decertify, they will have chaos" (Glenn Rogers, SAN ANTONIO
EXPRESS NEWS, 8/29). Maverick Player Rep/NBPA VP Jim Jackson:
"I'm a union man. There's some things [in the deal] I don't
like. There's some questions I asked [during negotiations]. I
feel like we gave up some things. But that's part of the
negotiation process. It's give and take. I think we negotiated
the best deal we could" (Brad Townsend, DALLAS MORNING NEWS,
8/29). Raptor John Salley: "I think the deal works and I think
we should support it. That's what I'm telling the players I talk
to. Everybody's making money. This deal will make us partners"
(Craig Daniels, TORONTO SUN, 8/29).
COUNT ME OUT: According to today's TORONTO STAR, Keith
Jennings "is considering voting for decertification" -- a
reported switch. Jennings: "Patrick and Michael and Rex Chapman
are saying the deal is not as good as the NBA makes it out to be,
and I'm starting to see that. They have the financial analysts
and the lawyers and they've really done their homework" (Michael
Clarkson, TORONTO STAR, 8/29).
WE DON'T BELIEVE YOU: A number of agents remain skeptical
about NBA Commissioner David Stern's vow not to play the season
without a new CBA. Mark Fleisher said Stern "is completely
bluffing." Bill Duffy: "If the union is decertified, then chaos
would reign for a little while. But it would go to court, a
settlement would be reached and the odds are great that there
would be a season that starts on time" (Jake Curtis, SAN
FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 8/29).
YOUR CAR, SIR: NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik said
yesterday "that each team has been approved to send a car service
to pick up players without transportation to the NLRB offices in
their respective areas and, in some cases, a plane ticket to
fetch them to vote." Granik: "We could have 75 percent of the
players' support, but if only 25 percent vote, we'll lose" (Mike
Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 8/29). Decertification balloting begins
tomorrow at over 45 NLRB offices throughout the U.S. (THE DAILY).
The new Indy Racing League, created by Indianapolis Motor
Speedway President Tony George, will debut on January 27 with the
Indy 200 in Orlando. The only other races during IRL's inaugural
season will be the Phoenix 200 on March 24 and the Indianapolis
500 on May 26. The '96-97 season will begin soon after with the
New England 200 on August 18 and the Las Vegas 200 on September
15. The IRL will end its championship competition annually with
the Indianapolis 500 (AP/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 8/29).
On ESPN's "NFL Prime Monday," Chris Mortenson said the NFL
will be watching for teams abusing salary cap rules. Mortenson:
"They are trying to have a crack-down right now. It's called
their 'Whistle-Blower Campaign,' and they are getting the word
out among players, agents, executives that there is in fact a $1
million reward for a tip that exposes a team that circumvents the
salary cap. That $1 million will come out of the $2 million fine
and they are looking hard at teams like the Cowboys and any other
team that may try to circumvent the cap" ("NFL Prime Monday,"
DOES THAT INCLUDE STOCK BUYS? Dolphins QB Dan Marino's
recent purchase of Republic Waste Industries stock on the advice
of Dolphins Owner H. Wayne Huizenga "has the NFL concerned about
a salary cap violation," according to the Ft. Lauderdale SUN-
SENTINEL. In May, Marino was one of 150 Huizenga "associates"
who took advantage of an offer to purchase Republic stock at
$4.50 a share in advance of Huizenga's announcement of his
intention to buy the company. The stock is now trading at
$22.25. Marino's net gain is estimated at more than $1.5M. NFL
Dir of Communications Greg Aiello: "The league's management
council is now aware of this and they will be looking into it.
Anything that raises the issue of the integrity of the salary cap
has to be looked into." Marino: "What, are they going to tell
me where I can invest my money?" NFLPA VP Trace Armstrong did
not think it was a violation because of the "element of risk"
(Jason Cole, Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 8/29).
SILVER STAR, BLACK HAT: Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones appeared
on "Prime Monday" and was asked if he was concerned about a
backlash from other owners over his recent business deals.
Jones: "I want the other owners to join me. I'm only dealing
with about 5% of the revenues in the NFL. If we did what I want
to do, the other 90% plus another five would be shared as we've
always shared them, but this is an opportunity to provide
incentive for the different clubs. This is a way for us to build
the NFL." Jones noted the owners coming into the league now who
are committing "hundreds of millions of dollars. ... The future
in the NFL are with people that have that kind of investment, my
plan would attract those people" (ESPN, 8/28).
"LEAGUE-THINK": NFL Manager of Corporate Commun. Brian
McCarthy disagrees and noted Jones's bid last year to separately
market his special star jersey. McCarthy: "We have a philosophy
we call 'league-think,' meaning the whole is greater than the sum
of all its parts. Sure, some teams sell more product than
others. But if there were no league to begin with, there
wouldn't be any teams or merchandise to sell" (ORANGE COUNTY
LOOMING CAP CASE STUDY? As Jones works this week to
restructure several of his players' contracts to secure enough
money under the cap to sign Deion Sanders, Ed Werder of the
DALLAS MORNING NEWS writes that Jones is underscoring the
potential endorsement possibilities for Sanders if he signs with
Dallas (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/29). In Houston, Bill Sullivan
writes that a Deion signing could be tied in with Jones' Pepsi
deal (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 8/29).
The NHL plans to announce today that it "intends to ban
holding, hooking and all other forms of obstruction between the
blue lines," according to Dave Fuller of the TORONTO SUN. Fuller
reports that the new policy is expected to receive "unanimous
approval" from the league's GMs who are currently meeting in
Denver. "A rubber stamp from the owners is to follow." Some of
the game's "elite" players were skeptical of the new policy,
however. Maple Leafs' Doug Gilmour: "Every year we come to
training camp, they say they're going to change this and call
that. And in training camp, and for the first three or four
weeks of the season, they do. But it never lasts" (TORONTO SUN,
NBA Commissioner David Stern "will likely" rule on the
alleged tampering involving the Heat and Pat Riley this week, a
league spokesperson said yesterday (Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 8/29).
Neither Stern, MSG President Dave Checketts, or Heat VP of Player
Personnel Dave Wohl had any comment on the matter. Fred Kerber
of the N.Y. POST reports if Stern determines it was Riley who
initiated the contact between the two sides, "he conceivably
could issue sanctions [against Riley], perhaps a suspension"
(N.Y. POST, 8/29).