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Volume 24 No. 155

Leagues and Governing Bodies

The NBPA has "spent the past month identifying four candidates" to succeed former Exec Dir Billy Hunter, and has "narrowed its options" to former NBA Exec VP/Basketball Operations Stu Jackson, Basketball HOFer Isiah Thomas, former MSG Sports Teams President of Business Operations Steve Mills and Bobcats President Fred Whitfield, according to Jason Whitlock of But Nets G and NBPA VP Jerry Stackhouse yesterday said, "I'm totally denying we are down to those four prospects. Those are just four well-known guys, guys who know our business, guys who have ideas we wanted to hear from." He added that the timetable for the union to name Hunter's successor is "between Christmas and NBA All-Star Weekend" in February. Stackhouse said the union's "long-term deadline is to have our guy in place around the same time" as when NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver succeeds Commissioner David Stern on February 1, 2014. Whitlock writes Mills has been "considered the front-runner ever since Hunter was ousted." Like Jackson, Mills has a "strong rapport" with Silver. NFL Coaches Association Exec Dir David Cornwell is "said to be a longshot candidate." Regardless of who gets the job, it is "clear the NBA and the NBPA want to usher in a spirit of cooperation and shared goals that were missing during the Stern-Hunter era" (, 7/29).

Opportunities for pro tennis players to play in the U.S. are "dwindling as tennis tournaments are relocating to Europe, South America and Asia at breathtaking speed," according to Liz Clarke of the WASHINGTON POST. The ATP World Tour Citi Open, which begins today in DC, is a "key stop on many top players' road to the season’s final major, the U.S. Open, as well as a staple on the calendar of most American contenders." But while there were 26 ATP men's events in the U.S. 30 years ago, this season "there are only 11," with the Citi Open the "longest running among them." Lagardere Group President Donald Dell, who co-founded the event, said, "It is complicated, but it’s all economics." Retired American tennis player and Fox Sports 1 analyst Andy Roddick said, "It’s pretty simple in my mind. Tennis is second worldwide as far as popularity. Frankly, it’s just in the U.S. that it’s not. Americans like watching sports that they know, but the sports that get covered mainstream have heavy American participation, like NFL -- 99 percent of the guys are American, and the rest are place kickers." Clarke noted three of the eight North American hard-court tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open "lack a title sponsor," the ATP’s Winston-Salem Open, the WTA Tour Southern California Open and the WTA New Haven Open. But in countries where tennis is "more prominent, it’s easier to come by public and private money to buy and relocate tournaments, pay appearance fees or underwrite existing events." Dell said, "If you’re the second-most popular sport in Great Britain or Germany and you’re 10th or 11th in America, it’s a little easier in Europe to get big-name sponsors" (WASHINGTON POST, 7/28).

The NFL "still appears to be a ways off" from joining MLB as the only pro sports league to test for HGH, "despite the proclamations by the NFL and NFLPA," according to Ben Volin of the BOSTON GLOBE. The only "real step taken last week, and it has yet to be finalized, is the NFLPA told players to be prepared to give blood samples this training camp for a baseline study." Once HGH levels among NFL players are established in a population study, the league can then, "in theory, develop a standard in which a player is deemed to have too much growth hormone in his system." But Patriots WR and union rep Matthew Slater last week said some of the details "are not finalized yet." Volin noted the players "haven’t been asked to give the blood samples, although players do give blood during their preseason physicals" (BOSTON GLOBE, 7/28). Rams C and union rep Scott Wells was among many on the team who said that they "would welcome" HGH testing, "as long as a suitable test is found." Wells: "Anything that will eliminate guys from cheating, I’m all for it. My understanding right now is they’re still trying to find a baseline for each individual’s human growth hormone level and until that’s established, it’s really hard to test what is an excessive amount." He added, "I think the one thing players are concerned about is to make sure everything is consistent. But overall the idea of (testing) is a good thing, trying to keep this thing as clean as possible" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 7/27). 

: Bears TE Martellus Bennett said, "The NFL should test guys. Guys are cheating and they don't need to be cheating." Bears G Matt Slauson said, "I've been suspicious of players on other teams and even on the team I was a part of in college and the pros. It is part of the game. I don't have a problem with testing as long as it is done the correct way. One of the main concerns is testing accurately. If they can find a way to do that, I am all for it" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/29). Panthers QB Cam Newton: "Whatever the NFL decides to do I'm all for it, whether HGH testing or any testing. I'll be prepared to do the test." Panthers TE Greg Olsen said, "I don't think we want to go down the road that baseball's got themselves in, trying to play catch-up." But he added, "You don't want someone showing up at your door with a needle to withdraw blood, so I do understand the PA's point on that" (AP, 7/27). Chargers LB Dwight Freeney: "I like an even playing field, so do it all. Make it Olympic-system testing for all I care because it evens the playing field. Whatever it is you've got to do, just do it ... and make it as strict as possible" (, 7/26). Steelers S Troy Polamalu said, "I'm absolutely in favor of HGH testing" (, 7/27). Vikings RB Adrian Peterson: "I like it. I love it. To be honest with you, I’ve been hoping that they did this a long time ago" (, 7/26).

The WNBA after this season will enter negotiations on its next CBA, and what is "certain is that there will be points of contention for ownership to deal with a base of players growing increasingly dissatisfied with business as usual," according to John Altavilla of the HARTFORD COURANT. The league's makeup of 11-person rosters, "agreed to by the players in the last CBA, employ only 132 players." The rosters have been "universally assailed because of the trouble that teams have had adjusting to major injuries." In addition, player salaries "remain staggeringly low." Veterans like Mercury G Diana Taurasi and Storm G Sue Bird, "pillars of the league, can currently make no more than $107,000 a season," while the salary cap remains less than $1M. This "salary conundrum is beginning to catch up with the WNBA." Players play for "high six-figure salaries in Europe, Asia and Australia, and more are growing increasingly hesitant to tax their bodies in a place -- the WNBA -- where the money is not as plentiful." WNBA President Laurel Richie said, "I'm excited about the process. I look forward to partnering with players and with the union to come out on the other side with an agreement that bodes well for the long-term health of the league" (HARTFORD COURANT, 7/29). Meanwhile, Richie said that the league is "more interested in building the health of its 12 teams than worrying about expansion." She said, "We want to make sure those teams are as strong as they can be. I would say expansion is in the future, but we have [not] assigned a number (of teams) or date on (the process)" (, 7/27).

PERMANENT ALL-STAR HOST? In Connecticut, Marc Allard asked, "Should the All-Star game, which sometimes is cast aside for such things as the Olympics, always be played at the Mohegan Sun Arena?" The venue on Saturday played host to the WNBA All-Star Game for the third time, and Fever coach Lin Dunn said, "It's a wonderful size arena, it's in a great location. Somebody in the league is going to have to show they can do a better job or it could continue to be here." Taurasi said, "There's 11,000 people here, (the media) is here covering it because you know how much the game means to people in Connecticut and across the country, and that's the kind of attention we need. When we come here, it's always great and the games are always good here, too." However, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, "I'm an advocate for moving it around and sharing it with different cities." She added, "Cultivating it in other places is important for the growth of our game. Any time you have a chance to do that, in a city that is willing, that exposure is good" (NORWICH BULLETIN, 7/28).