NBA Commissioner David Stern "has met several times
this week" with Latrell Sprewell's attorney Johnnie Cochran,
according to John Walls of "Fox Sports News." Walls added
that Stern "hopes to find a solution to the Sprewell matter,
thus avoiding arbitration and what he fears will be an
unfavorable decision for the NBA" ("FSN," 12/17).
SNAP, CRACKLE, POP: In S.F., David Steele writes the
NBA "snapped, lost patience, acted rashly, crossed the line
without seriously considering the consequences" in its
Sprewell suspension. Steele calls for a settlement in the
matter, because in the upcoming arbitration, "everyone's
dirty laundry will be on display" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/18).
WRITE, JESSE, WRITE: Jesse Jackson writes the "Point
After" in the current SI: "There are many issues involving
race and sports worth getting excited about. ... But for all
the hype surrounding Latrell Sprewell, the incident between
him and his coach most assuredly does not belong in this
group." Jackson said that the issue won't lead him to
picket or rally or march in support of Sprewell. Jackson:
"If the Sprewell episode has a larger implication, it is
found in a sports-entertainment industry that tells athletes
at a very young age that they may play by a different set of
rules than their fellow students, that coddles them and
spoils them and that showers them with rewards out of all
proportion to their contributions to society" (SI, 12/22).
MORE GOOD NEWS: USA TODAY's David DuPree writes the NBA
"has seen its attendance take an early-season tumble," down
2.5% from last season to 16,648 a game. DuPree noted while
attendance "usually picks up after New Year's," if the
numbers hold, "it will be the second season in a row that
attendance has fallen after an increase in each of the
previous five seasons" (USA TODAY, 12/18).
In St. Paul, Charley Walters writes the "latest word"
is the NFL "will try to assist" Vikings President Roger
Headrick "in acquiring financing" to become the team's 30%
managing partner (PIONEER PRESS, 12/18)....The ABL opened
its locker room doors to reporters 20 minutes before and
after games from December 8-15 on a trial basis. The league
will ask "for feedback" and is "expected to decide on a
policy this week." The league has kept its doors closed to
the media and players are interviewed in separate rooms. ABL
Dir of Media Relations Dean Jutilla: "Most of the feedback
has been positive for keeping them closed" (HARTFORD
COURANT, 12/18). In other ABL news, Dwight Chapin wrote
that with ABL attendance up 20% and the quality of play
"markedly improved," it "seems to be very much in the game
against the big-bucks WNBA" (S.F. EXAMINER, 12/17).
IBF and WBA heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield has
told promotor Don King that he wants a unification bout with
WBC champ Lennox Lewis, according to Greg Logan of NEWSDAY.
Sources say that Lewis "has accepted King's purse offer and
agreed in principle to give King a financial interest in his
future fights, and Holyfield is prepared to leave Showtime
for this one fight" to appear on Time Warner's TVKO, which
holds exclusive rights to Lewis. Logan: "Only one obstacle
stands in the way of a Holyfield-Lewis bout in the spring --
King. ... The major sticking point is King's objection to
televising the fight on TVKO because of his long-standing
feud with HBO Sports head Seth Abraham." Holyfield's
attorney Jim Thomas said his fighter would prefer to fight
for Showtime, but added, "We're told the only way the fight
can be made legally is at HBO. We have to go there to get
the unification fight" (NEWSDAY, 12/18).
The CFL's Board of Governors concluded its two days of
meetings in Toronto and announced scheduling changes to be
more "fan friendly," according to Tony Maraschiello of the
TORONTO SUN. Maraschiello: "As part of the new focus on
the fans, there will be no weekend games next season before
Labor Day, an indication the CFL is listening to the fans
who want to spend their summer weekends at the cottage.
After Labor Day, all games will be either Friday, Saturday
or Sunday afternoon, giving school kids an opportunity to
attend games." CFL Chair John Tory said that it "appears"
the league will be debt free for the '98 season. Tory added
talks are still continuing with the World League about
playing a World Classic Bowl in June (TORONTO SUN, 12/18).
The league also unveiled three marketing slogans for '98:
Made in Canada for Canadians, Back to Our Future and Making
Football Fun Again (Mark Harding, TORONTO STAR, 12/18).
Tory added that the league schedule will be released Monday,
"months head" of usual: "Given our history, the schedule
usually isn't out until March" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/18).
TV PACKAGE: The league will continue to play Sunday
games after September 1 despite being urged by CBC Sports
head Alan Clark to avoid going up against the NFL. Tory:
"[O]ur fans comes first. [TV] revenue is important to us
and we want the money and exposure, but when it comes to
money it probably represents less than 10 per cent of what
teams take in." But Tory added that "for the first time in
league history there will likely" be live broadcasts next
season of CFL games on ESPN2 (TORONTO STAR, 12/18).