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Volume 24 No. 112
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     Following a suggestion by '95 winner Harold Miner, the NBA
will make the final round of its All-Star Weekend slam dunk
contest a "dunking duel."  The first round will remain the same,
with contestants getting 90 seconds to get in as many impressive
dunks as possible (WASHINGTON TIMES, 1/9).
     PROFILE:  Commissioner David Stern was profiled in Sunday's
N.Y. TIMES, with comparisons to a "trapeze artist" for his
handling of the lockout.  Still, small-market teams express
concern over the "Larry Bird Exception," which survived the shut-
down.  Pacers President Donnie Walsh:  "There is still no real
salary cap ... Teams are going to look for suite deals."  Stern,
on the future:  "I could let go and try something else.  I
haven't seen a good substitute to this point" (Harvey Araton,
N.Y. TIMES, 1/7).
     THE FIRST $25 MILLION MAN?  In Chicago, Sam Smith ponders
the off-season, with salary negotiations looming for Shaquille
O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutumbo and Michael Jordan.
David Falk, agent to all but Shaq, predicts a new salary
structure this summer with some players making above $20M.  Falk:
"It's (up to me) to set the market with Dikembe, Alonzo and Juwan
Howard."  If O'Neal gets $20M, Smith asks how Jordan can not be
paid at least that --- and maybe $25M.  Smith notes one
possibility being floated is a $10M "sponsor bonus" to Jordan
from Nike as a form of a "salary-cap avoidance compromise"