WNBA GETS NIKKI: WILL OTHER PLAYERS SOON BE ON THE MOVE?
The ABL's '96 MVP Nikki McCray officially changed
leagues yesterday and signed with the WNBA. In a statement,
ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said, "Nikki is an excellent player,
and we will miss her. But the sun still came up this
morning, and the ABL is alive and well." Cavalli said that
in her contract negotiations, McCray asked for a salary that
was more than three times as much of other '96 U.S.
Olympians in the ABL. She also requested the first right of
refusal on all major endorsement deals offered to ABL
players. He called the demands "unrealistic, excessive, and
unfair to the other players in the league" (ABL).
DETAILS: McCray's attorney, DC-based Lon Babby, said
that McCray turned down a more lucrative offer from the ABL
but that the "key" to her decision were the "promotional
opportunities" (Amy Shipley, WASHINGTON POST, 9/17).
Cavalli called McCray's request for the right of first
refusal on endorsement deals "outrageous," adding, "There's
no way a league could ever agree to something like that"
(Aaron Portzline, COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 9/16). In Philadelphia,
Mel Greenberg reports that McCray "is expected to become
another WNBA player spokeswomen, joining Rebecca Lobo,
Sheryl Swoopes and Lisa Leslie, who all received reported
$250,000 deals." McCray, "one of the few" ABL players who
initially signed a one-year deal, on the WNBA: "Watching
their season this year, they generated a lot of fan support"
(PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17). More McCray: "It went back
and forth daily, and I pretty much decided over the weekend"
(Bobby Hall, COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 9/17). McCray: "The ABL was
a success last year, but just looking at the whole situation
... and the two proposals that were made to me, I felt the
WNBA was the best choice for me" (ESPN, 9/16).
WAR, WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? In Washington, Amy Shipley
writes the move is "yet another signal that the ABL will be
hard-pressed to stand up to the enormous power of the NBA-
backed WNBA." But Shipley adds a "flurry of defections is
unlikely to be precipitated by McCray's move" (WASHINGTON
POST, 9/17). Cavalli: "Is it war? No. But it is open
season" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 9/17). More Cavalli: "A
number of W.N.B.A. players have contacted us about moving
after the coming season and we will talk to them." WNBA
President Val Ackerman: "We are very interested in
attracting the best players we can find, wherever they come
from" (Frank Litsky, N.Y. TIMES, 9/17). In N.Y., Ursula
Reel examines the two leagues and writes, "Things aren't
looking too good for the ABL." Reel adds that ABL execs and
players "wonder how they've become the 'other league' when
their league came first" (N.Y. POST, 9/17).
CHANGE LEAGUES AND GAMES? USA TODAY's Valerie Lister
reports that McCray doesn't have any endorsements yet, but
"is negotiating a contract" with Fila (USA TODAY, 9/17).