On his "NBA Beat," ESPN's David Aldridge reported that
while the NBPA is "looking into" decertification should the
league reopen its CBA next summer, "the agents for several
high-profile players are concerned that decertifying may
invalidate the guaranteed contracts their players have."
Aldridge: "Lawyers are looking for precedence now, but if
they don't find an answer that's satisfactory, the NBA's
union could be without one of its most powerful arguments
when it goes back to the bargaining table" (ESPN, 12/15).
HOUSTON'S ROCKET: Charles Barkley appeared on ESPN's
"Up Close" on Monday. Barkley, on his talk of a boycott of
the All-Star Game and/or the World Championships: "I don't
even know if we're going to have to have a boycott, because
I think we are going to get locked out. I think there's no
question we're going to get locked out" (ESPN, 12/15).
OH SPIT! USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance writes the NBA "has
alerted teams it is cracking down on excessive use of
profanity by coaches and players." Offenders will be fined
$2,500 and could be suspended (USA TODAY, 12/16).
There's a "battle brewing" between the NHL and the
NHLPA "over the continuance of the Canadian Assistance Plan
(CAP)," according to Bob McKenzie of the HOCKEY NEWS. The
NHLPA has field a grievance with the NHL "against the CAP,
effectively challenging the legality of it." McKenzie
reports the move "apparently prevented NHL governors" from
formally approving the CAP for another year at the meetings
earlier this month in FL. McKenzie: "Instead, the governors
'recommended' its continuance, recognizing its future hinges
on the outcome of an arbitration hearing." The CAP is a
two-part revenue-sharing plan offering financial aid and
incentives to "small-market" Canadian teams. One element
gives Canadian teams "certain breaks when they're forced to
match a free-agent offer sheet in U.S. dollars." The NHLPA
declined comment while the NHL "simply confirmed an NHLPA
grievance had been filed" (HOCKEY NEWS, 12/19 issue).
ABL CEO Gary Cavalli said the league has signed 32 of
the 35 players it "targeted to retain," according to Bruce
Berlet of the HARTFORD COURANT. The three unsigned players
are the Blizzard's Jennifer Rizzotti, the Rage's Dawn Staley
and the StingRays' Venus Lacy. Rizzotti and Staley "could
receive sizable offers from" the WNBA and Cavalli is in
talks with their agent, Kenton Edelin, who also represents
Rebecca Lobo (HARTFORD COURANT, 12/16).
The LPGA and Ford's Mercury division have created the
'98 Mercury LPGA Series, which will provide live TV coverage
of seven LPGA tournaments during the '98 season on ESPN and
ESPN2. The TV series is a first for the LPGA and expands
Mercury's LPGA partnership. Six of the seven events will
appear on ESPN2 and one on ESPN. Each tournament will have
three days of coverage, Friday through Sunday. The series
begins with the HealthSouth Inaugural from January 16-18.
ESPN's OCC Sports will produce the series (LPGA).
VISIBILITY: LPGA Commissioner Jim Ritts, at yesterday's
'97 LPGA awards luncheon in NY: "We've got a depth of
talent, and the money we're playing for is higher than ever.
But visibility is the key to everything. ... Tiger [Woods]
expanded the universe of potential fans. Now we have to
reel them in with our product. Visibility and television
are the most important things." In N.Y., Clifton Brown said
while the LPGA had a "remarkable year," it "remains in a
fierce battle for attention in a sports market that is more
competitive than ever" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/16).