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Volume 24 No. 117

People and Pop Culture

Former NBA Deputy Commissioner and Players Association Exec Dir SIMON GOURDINE has died at the age of 72. Gourdine joined the NBA in '70, and was named NBA Deputy Commissioner in '74, becoming the highest ranking African American exec in sports at the time. Gourdine in '76 was part of the landmark collective bargaining negotiations that created the NBA's first free agency system, an agreement that also saw the NBA absorb four ABA franchises (NBA). In N.Y., Richard Goldstein notes Gourdine resigned from the NBA “at the end of the 1981, when his contract was expiring.” He returned in ’90 as the “NBA players union counsel.” He then became “executive director in April 1995, replacing CHARLES GRANTHAM, who resigned in the midst of stalled contract talks.” Gourdine negotiated “a tentative long-term collective bargaining agreement in the summer of 1995, and he was awarded a two-year contract as executive director by the union’s executive board late that year.” But player representatives “rejected the deal, and he was ousted early in 1996.” An arbitration panel “later awarded him nearly $900,000 in unpaid salary” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20).’s Steve Aschburner noted Gourdine “took over the top job and negotiated the labor deal that ended the 1995 lockout and instituted the NBA’s first rookie wage scale.” But he was “forced out by a group of players and their agents, including PATRICK EWING and MICHAEL JORDAN, who felt the deal favored the owners and had urged the decertification of the union.” Gourdine later joked, “I was fired by Patrick Ewing” (, 8/19).

Texas A&M Univ. Senior Athletic Administrator JOHN THORNTON announced his retirement. Thornton "spent the past three decades" with the school, most recently as interim AD (Texas A&M)....The NASL Ft. Lauderdale Strikers named ECHL Florida Everblades Account Exec BEN BAKER Sales Dir (THE DAILY)....Sports apparel and equipment company 4POINT4 named former NBAer LARRY JOHNSON President of Basketball Operations (4POINT4)....Drake Univ. named Univ. of Alabama Associate Dir of Athletic Communications TY PATTON Assistant AD/Athletic Communications (Drake)....Former Anheuser-Busch Int'l Sports Marketing Dir BRUCE HUDSON "is joining St. Louis Univ. as an executive in the sports business program" (, 8/16).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to’s Kevin Liptak reported Republican presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY on Friday “shared coconut shrimp skewers and duck samosas at the Sebonack Golf Club on the eastern end of Long Island with campaign supporters,” including Jets Owner WOODY JOHNSON and Dolphins Owner STEPHEN ROSS. The fundraiser “brought in $3.25 million for the Republican candidate” (, 8/19). In San Antonio, Dan McCarney reported Spurs coach GREGG POPOVICH is “among President BARACK OBAMA’s more generous NBA donors, having pledged $5,000 to his re-election campaign.” Celtics coach DOC RIVERS, Hawks coach LARRY DREW and Bobcats coach MIKE DUNLAP also contributed to Obama’s campaign. But eight of the Spurs’ 10 ownership members “have thrown their weight behind” Romney (, 8/18).

GOING HOLLYWOOD: The AP’s Jeff Latzke noted Thunder F KEVIN DURANT yesterday attended the premiere of his movie “Thunderstuck” in Oklahoma City’s Bricktown entertainment district. The movie opens in theaters Friday (AP, 8/19). In Oklahoma City, George Lang noted much of the movie was “shot in Baton Rouge, La., including some scenes in which LSU’s Pete Maravich Assembly Center doubles for the Chesapeake Energy Arena, but several Oklahoma City locations and a few personalities show up in the background” (, 8/19).

: Rockets G JEREMY LIN "has a busy summer on the Chinese mainland." The Chinese-American started his tour by visiting a primary school for children of migrant workers in a suburban district of Beijing. He then landed in Shanghai, joined the TV show "China's Got Talent" and signed with KFC China to become their basketball ambassador to "promote sports and health" (CHINA DAILY, 8/17).

MAKING THE MOVE: In Tampa, John Romano profiled Lightning Owner JEFF VINIK and wrote “two years after buying the Lightning and beginning regular commutes from Boston, Vinik has settled in Tampa for good.” His family “moved into its Palma Ceia home on Tuesday and his youngest son began sixth grade two days later.” His money management firm is “in the process of relocating to Tampa, and has recently doubled its number of employees.” Vinik also is “negotiating the purchase of Channelside Bay Plaza as part of a vision to re-imagine downtown Tampa’s waterfront” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/19)....Golfer TIGER WOODS has sold his Corona del Mar, Calif., condo for $2.2M. He bought the property in ’04 for $3M (, 8/19).

BOOK SHELF: Former MLBer GREGG OLSON and OCEAN PALMER have co-authored their “first volume of 60 short stories, mostly from fellow players, called ‘We Got To Play Baseball.’” In N.Y., Tyler Kepner wrote Olson “keeps the stories clean, and they vary widely, mostly in the genre of pranks and oddities” (, 8/18)....Knicks F AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE appeared live on ABC’s “GMA” this morning to promote his new book "STAT: Standing Tall And Talented.” ABC’s Josh Elliott said the book “is based partly on his childhood.” Stoudemire said, “I figured with the platform of me being in the NBA and being able to really inspire the youth, I felt like it was a great opportunity to write some of my childhood stories and get them to understand ‘Standing Tall And Talented’ is something they should definitely take heed to and succeed in life” (“GMA,” ABC, 8/20).

Pierre-Paul (l) this summer spent a night in N.Y. with Upton promoting Axe deodorant

YOU DOWN WITH JPP? In N.Y., Robert Andrew Powell profiles Giants DE JASON PIERRE-PAUL and notes after signing an $11M contract with the team, the “young, successful and rich” player mostly spent his offseason “laying low.” Pierre-Paul said that he “did spend a night in Manhattan promoting a deodorant brand with supermodel KATE UPTON, and he attended the ESPY Awards” (N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE, 8/19).

: Heat F LEBRON JAMES yesterday “met with 500 third-graders and their families at an Akron Aeros minor-league baseball game, where bicycles and school uniforms were distributed courtesy of the LeBron James Family Foundation.” The event was part of James’ Wheels For Education program (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 8/20)….Penguins C JOE VITALE joined teammate LW MATT COOKE and Hurricanes C JORDAN STAAL as part of a group that took a three-day mission trip to Cap-Haitien Haiti. Vitale said of the trip, “Nothing prepares you for what you witness” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/18)….Gold USA Basketball Chair JERRY COLANGELO will be awarded the Alfredo J. Molina Community Lifeline Award at the Teen Lifeline’s Connections of Hope: An Evening to Celebrate Arizona’s Youth at Montelucia Resort on Oct. (THE DAILY)….There has been some “heavy-duty flirting” going on between Gold Medal-winning gymnast ALY RAISMAN and Bruins C TYLER SEGUIN through the media and social media (, 8/17)....Medal-winning swimmer RYAN LOCHTE this weekend celebrated his 28th birthday “at the Azure pool at The Palazzo in Las Vegas” (, 8/19)…’s BRIAN WINDHORST and MAUREEN FULTON were married Saturday evening in an outdoor ceremony at the Lauritzen Gardens in Omaha (N.Y. TIMES, 8/19).