"Posturing, diplomacy, rhetoric and misconceptions have
all dotted the line of negotiations between the NBA and the
Players Association since the league imposed a lockout on
July 1," according to Mike Kahn of CBS SportsLine. There is
"little doubt at the moment" that NBPA Exec Dir Billy
Hunter's "only task is to keep the players galvanized as
much as possible, despite saying, 'a hard cap is not
acceptable and not negotiable.'" Kahn: "There is more to it
than that. He was hired, said one NBA source, 'to kick [NBA
Commissioner David Stern's] butt, and unless he continues to
act that way, he'll be out of a job.' So Hunter marches
on." Stern: "Let's face it, this is different than any
other negotiation. They may feel they're giving something
back, but the players won't really understand this until
they miss a paycheck. Then it will be reality to them."
Kahn: "Call it idle rhetoric or posturing, there is a bottom
line here, and Stern, who has been negotiating for the NBA
for more than 20 years now, knows this time is different.
Billy is the Hunter and Stern is the hunted. Unless the
present course of action is re-examined by the players, the
real losers up front will be the fans and the players, with
the real future of the game itself somewhere in between.
The billionaire owners will feel the pain last. But we'd
better not say it too loudly, the players might hear it"
(Mike Kahn, CBS SportsLine, 8/19).
GOING ONE ON ONE: In the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, NBA
Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik and NBPA Counsel Jeffrey
Kessler are interviewed in a Q&A. Granik: "I think in
bargaining everybody is vulnerable. When we start missing
games and we're losing receipts and players are losing
salaries, ultimately, the economics have an impact."
Kessler: "I do not foresee any division arising between the
players" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/17 issue).
THE BIRD CAGE: USA TODAY's Roscoe Nance examines the
Larry Bird Exception, which is "a sacred cow" for the
players. But Nance writes, "in reality, only a handful of
players are beneficiaries of the Bird Exception each year."
Of the NBA's 325 free agents the previous two seasons,
"only" 33 have used the Bird rights to re-sign with their
teams. Nance: "The popular notion is the Bird Exception
only benefits the superstar players. That's not totally
accurate. But it does appear to benefit superstar players
to a greater degree" (Roscoe Nance, USA TODAY, 8/19).
CHARITY OF NIGHT: The NBA and NBPA agreed to cooperate
on the N.Y. All-Star Basketball Classic, the "seventh of
eight league-sanctioned charity games to be played during
the lockout." The game will be held September 9 at MSG and
benefit Wheelchair Charities (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).
So far this season, "it's hard to see how" the chase
for MLB's single-season HR record "has given baseball a big
bang," according to USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand in a Sports
cover story. While MLB attendance is up 10% overall, it is
up "only" 1% excluding the two expansion clubs. Hiestand
adds that attendance "might not be up at all" without the
Beanie Baby giveaways. In addition, MLB's national ratings
are "virtually unchanged" from '97. But Logo Athletic VP
Eddie White says that Logo's MLB sales are up 12% and adds,
"This may be the first year since the 1994 strike that we
see an increase in (baseball sales)." In Logo clothing
identified with specific players, Ken Griffey Jr. "accounts
for half of all sales," with Mark McGwire second at 21% and
Sammy Sosa in a single-digit eighth place. Pro Player says
that Griffey has been that company's top-seller for three
years. This season, Griffey products have produced retail
sales of "about" $500,000, with McGwire second at $400,000.
But Griffey products last year generated sales of $750,000
(USA TODAY, 8/19). In Chicago, Bernie Lincicome writes that
MLB "is blessed" to have the HR record chase. Lincicome:
"In a baseball season without compelling pennant races, or
any pennant races at all to speak of, there is a daily
reason to check in on the game" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/19).
GOLF: GOLFWEEK's "Forecaddie" reports that LPGA
Commissioner Jim Ritts "would like to see the women's tour
conduct five to six stand-alone 'senior' tournaments next
season. And word is Eli Lilly & Co., which currently
sponsors the Lilly Legends Series for LPGA Tour players 40-
and-over ... is thinking about conducting one or two LPGA
legends tournaments in '99" (GOLFWEEK, 8/15 issue)....The
U.S. Justice Department filed a brief with a federal appeals
court Tuesday supporting Casey Martin. In its brief, the
Department said that the PGA Tour is covered under the ADA
and "must abide by it" (USA TODAY, 8/19).
OTHER NOTES: In S.F., Glenn Dickey calls the NFL
exhibition season "the biggest boondoggle in sports" and
recommends that the league schedule games "in smaller, non-
NFL cities, where fans would be thrilled to see any NFL
action because they can't see the teams in person during the
season" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 8/19)....In L.A., Dana Haddad
profiled pro beach volleyball, and noted that the AVP has
reduced its prize money from $4M to $1.3M this year. AVP
Interim CEO Harry Usher: "I don't think we'll get back to
the $4 million-prize money in the very near future. I don't
think it should ever get back to $4 million. ... I think the
prize money has been paid when it should not have been paid.
This operation has never had money" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 8/18).
The U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) will choose President
Alan Rothenberg's successor on Saturday, and the "new boss
will be just as obscure as his predecessor eight years ago,"
according to Steve Davis of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Either
Bob Contiguglia or Larry Monaco will be named President
during meetings this weekend in Maui. Contiguglia "is a
practicing kidney specialist in Denver" who spent six years
as U.S. Youth Soccer Association Chair. He lost the '84
U.S. Soccer presidential race. Monaco has been a U.S.
Soccer Exec VP for four years, and spent 19 years as a staff
attorney for the U.S. House of Representatives. Davis
writes, "The candidates' platforms look similar. Both
promise to provide more local-level support for the sport's"
participants (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 8/19). Rothenberg's
legacy as USSF President is examined by Rodney Sieh of the
K.C. STAR, who writes, "Soccer in America has come a long
way in eight years. ... [It] has enjoyed unprecedented
growth during Rothenberg's reign, thanks to a multimillion
surplus from the 1994 World Cup and subsequent sponsorship
agreements" (Rodney Sieh, K.C. STAR, 8/19).
NEW COO: The USSF named Tom King its COO. King had
been GM of the USSF's National Teams Program (USSF).