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Volume 25 No. 66
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Morning Buzz, February 10, 2003

The Daily Insider
Morning News & Headlines
Monday, February 10, 2003
9:00am ET

NBA All-Star Game Ends In Dramatic Fashion As Jordan Bids Farewell

Senators Chair Rod Bryden Expected To Announce Completed Deal Today

Baltimore/Annapolis Bid Beats Others For U.S. Stop On Volvo Ocean Race

Polls Shows That 80% Of UT Residents Want Olympics To Return To State

WNBA Takes A PR Hit Last Night As "The Simpsons" Takes A Dig

Morning Briefs/In Other News/Laugh Track/TV Monitor/Weekend Box Office


NBA ALL-STAR GAME: JORDAN, GRIDLOCK & PHILIPS ARENA

Sights and sounds from the NBA All-Star Weekend it Atlanta, including the 52nd NBA All-Star Game at Philips Arena last night, which the West All-Stars won 155-145 in double OT.

Jordan's Last Stand?

The game, which marked Wizards F Michael Jordan's 14th and allegedly final All-Star appearance, included a halftime ceremony and performance by Mariah Carey.

After Carey's performance, Jordan said to the crowd, "I leave the game in good hands. So many greats stars still in the game, so many great stars rising and playing the game. I passed on the things that Dr. J and some of the great players – Magic Johnson, Larry Bird – have passed on to me. I pass on to these All-Stars here as well as the rest of the players in the NBA. I thank you for your support.  Now, I can go home and feel at peace
with the game of basketball" ("NBA All-Star Game," TNT, 2/9).

In N.Y., Liz Robbins writes, "Jordan accepted the starting spot that Vince Carter had suddenly bequeathed to him moments before tip-off, defusing weeks of controversy." Jordan: "He was very very kind in offering me that and I felt it was very genuine. I didn't want him to take any more of a beating" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/10).

Carter: "After a while, I sat back and thought about it. This is his last one, he's the greatest player and I'm going to get this opportunity again. I thank all my fans for voting for me, but he deserves it" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/10). Carter: "I felt I needed to get my point across and I wanted my fans, the people who voted for me to understand that I was going to stick by my decision. In the end, he needed to be out there" (L.A. TIMES, 2/10).

ABC Radio's Keith Olbermann, on Carter's last minute offer: "It made the NBA look like pro wrestling" (ABC Radio, 2/10).

In Orlando, Brian Schmitz writes, "The NBA and its young sneakered accomplices set out to honor Michael Jordan on Sunday night, and they shot Air balls. … The NBA had flawlessly provided every form of entertainment imaginable over the weekend. Then the only moment that mattered [honoring Jordan] is botched" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 2/10).

In Detroit, Rob Parker writes, "Sadly, Jordan's send-off wasn't all that special. You lose something when you honor someone more than once" (DETROIT NEWS, 2/10).

Jordan, on possibly running for political office, in light of Magic Johnson and Charles Barkley contemplating the idea: "I tell you, all those guys, we have all got damage in our closets. And if we all come to grips with that and then go and live in a political world and chase that political dream, I support the candidate that is going to do that" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 2/9).

Gridlock In Atlanta

The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION reports that there were "few major incidents through the weekend, but the problems that have dogged Atlanta in the past resurfaced. Streets were gridlocked." Atlanta Police Chief Richard Pennington: "We have learned a lot from this. At our next big event, we won't have any traffic problems" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 2/10).

In L.A., Mark Heisler writes, "As All-Star weekends go, this was a disaster, with gridlocked traffic and so many people in town for the parties, if not the game, that three area malls closed Saturday because they were packed wall-to-wall. The press-room telephone system went down Saturday and Sunday" (L.A. TIMES, 2/10).

Suns F Shawn Marion "sat in a limo for 90 minutes trying to go two blocks." Pistons C Ben Wallace "needed 2 ½ hours to make it in from the airport." To avoid the delays, Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki walked to Philips Arena from his hotel (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/10).

While appearing at halftime during the game, NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon commented on the traffic in Atlanta: "I actually had to get out and walk to get here. It reminds me of a NASCAR race" (TNT, 2/9).

Philips Arena

Barkley, assessing the state of Philips Arena: "All that's missing is a team … This is their only chance to ever get to sell-out here" (TNT, 2/8).

TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith: "I didn't recognize this place because it's filled up. I thought I was in the wrong arena" (TNT, 2/8).

Magic G Tracy McGrady: "Usually when I come here, it's about 18 people in the stands. So this was cool" (Newark STAR LEDGER, 2/10).

All-Star Notes…

Barkley, during Saturday's Sprite Rising Stars Slam Dunk: "I was wondering why they only had four competitors, then I realized this is sponsored by AOL. They're cutting back anywhere they can" (TNT, 2/8).

Barkley, on Meatloaf's performance during All-Star Saturday night: "They should call him mystery meat. I don't know what that was" (TNT, 2/8).

The BOSTON HERALD reported that during Friday's media session, Mavericks G Steve Nash "made a statement with his clothing," wearing a shirt with the image of a basketball player and the words, "No War. Shoot For Peace" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/8). Nash: "I believe us going to war would be a mistake. I think it's something we need to be very careful with" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/8).

The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban purchased a full-page ad in the Atlanta Constitution bemoaning the absence of Mavericks G Michael Finley that read, "It's Dirty and Nasty and could've been downright Filthy." The ad featured pictures of Nowitzki, Nash and Finley. A smaller headline read, "It's OK, it's the All-Star Game. Go ahead and love them like we do." Sources at the newspapers said that the ad "cost between $30,000 and $50,000" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/10).

The INDIANAPOLIS STAR reported that NBA All-Star merchandise, including "shorts, T-shirts, warm-ups and the replica jerseys – priced between $20 and $200 – will be available in retail outlets" today (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/9).


SENATORS DEAL INCLUDES SELLING TEAM FOR $170M

The Toronto GLOBE & MAIL reported that Senators Chair Rod Bryden is expected to announce today that he has acquired control of the team and the Corel Centre "through a complex deal that includes selling the team to a limited partnership for around C$170[M]." The deal also includes "about C$60[M] in tax benefits for investors and a new lease arrangement between the team and the Corel Centre" (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 2/8).


VOLVO OCEAN RACE TO STOP IN BALTIMORE/ANNAPOLIS FOR 3rd TIME

The WASHINGTON POST reports that Volvo Ocean Race officials today announced the round-the-world sailing event "will be back in Baltimore/Annapolis for a stopover in the spring" of '06. The race previously stopped in Baltimore/Annapolis in '98 and '02 (WASHINGTON POST, 2/10). The Baltimore SUN reports that the Baltimore/Annapolis bid "beat a number of other proposals" believed to include Miami, Charleston, SC, N.Y. and Newport, RI (Baltimore SUN, 2/10).


WINTERFEST DEEMED SUCCESS IN SALT LAKE CITY

The SALT LAKE TRIBUNE reported that the Winterfest, a ceremony Saturday marking the one-year anniversary of Salt Lake Winter Olympics, ranged "from emotional film clips about various aspects of the Games, to speeches kept appropriately short, and on to a rousing climax with fireworks bursting overhead in concert with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's ethereal chants of 'Citius, Altius, Fortius.'" The "volunteer-rich crowd" was estimated at 12,000-15,000 (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 2/9).

Meanwhile, a DESERET NEWS/KSL-TV poll shows that 80% "of the state's residents favor Salt Lake City hosting a future Olympic Winter Games if given the chance" (DESERET NEWS, 2/8).


MORNING BRIEFS

NFL Films/Warner Home Video today releases the Bucs' Super Bowl XXXVII Champions video "with 300 fans who won a radio sweepstakes joining Bucs players and coaches for the initial screening." The video goes on sale tomorrow (USA TODAY, 2/10).

TV Guide's NASCAR preview hits newsstands today, featuring three different moving-image covers. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon are each featured on one of the special covers. A set of all three covers is available on TV Guide's Web site (THE DAILY).

The Nashville TENNESSEAN reports that ABC's "Good Morning America" has postponed filming of a segment on ARCA driver Deborah Renshaw "because of the network's expanded coverage of the increasingly tense situation in Iraq." ABC "hopes to do the segment later in the season" (Nashville TENNNESSEAN, 2/10).

The DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports that musician Alice Cooper is backing ARCA driver Chase Montgomery, forming Alice Cooper/Montgomery Racing. Montgomery won the ARCA 200 Saturday in Daytona, and the team "plans to run seven Busch series events this season with a No. 27 Pontiac car from Brewco Motorsports" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/10).

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Dir Ollie Nutt said that the "gate receipts were '3 to 4 percent' behind last year's as of Saturday, but figured after a beautiful Sunday's good crowd, the 2003 AT&T would make about the same amount of money – around $1.8[M]" as last year (S.F. CHRONICLE, 2/10).

Cubs manager Dusty Baker, on MLB changing the batboy age requirement after his son Darren, 3, was nearly trampled during last year's World Series: "I'd hate for him to have a complex when he grows up that it was his fault. He made a mistake, which people make in baseball. That was about his 10th or 11th time being a batboy. The players will tell you he was one of the best" (USA TODAY, 2/10).

ATTENDANCE WATCH:

  • The AKRON BEACON JOURNAL reported that a sellout crowd of 8,500 attended Saturday's St. Vincent-St. Mary's-Westchester High basketball game at Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, NJ, featuring LeBron James. Seats were "scalped for as much as $2,500, [and] … 140 reporters from as far away as Japan and from as unlikely a place as New Yorker magazine" were present (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 2/9). FSN's Spero Dedes: "The hype in this arena ... is like a Super Bowl event" (FSN2, 2/8).
  • The MIAMI HERALD reported that 27,196 people attended Saturday's Argentina-U.S. friendly soccer match at the Orange Bowl in Miami (MIAMI HERALD, 2/9).

A LIGHTER BUZZ

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he would like to possibly get into acting: "Maybe I can become the Harrison Ford of race-car drivers. I really like doing commercials, and I have some indications that I have an opportunity to be an actor once I quit driving" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/10).

ABC Radio's Keith Olbermann said the WNBA "took a hit last night," as Fox's "The Simpsons" began with the family attending a WNBA game. The marquee read, "Springfield Square Garden – Courtside Seats … 30 Cents" (ABC Radio, 2/10).


WEEKEND RAP…

The following are excerpts from the panelists' "parting shots" on Sunday's edition of ESPN's "The Sports Reporters":

  • Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan: "If (Mike Tyson) prevails (over Clifford Etienne), Tyson might have another fight with Lennox Lewis,to which I have a one-word response: Why? ... Tyson ceased to be a boxer a long time ago. He is a carnival act."

  • N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica: "Michael Jordan is the greatest sports event of my lifetime. ... But the idea that his most recent un-retirement and farewell tour have to turn tonight's All-Star Game into a Michael Jordan Mardi Gras is pretty funny. ... Now the whole thing officially goes over the top. I thought my buddies on the panel were kidding when they told me Mariah Carey was going to sing 'Hero' to Jordan at halftime tonight, thinking, 'Nah, even with all the junk they put into All-Star weekend, even these over-producers wouldn't come up with something this lame.' But it's true!"
  • N.Y. Times columnist William Rhoden: "I respect Pat Riley as a coach, ... but Pat, the whining has got to stop. ... I'm not saying that Riley doesn't have a point. Officials do tend to develop God complexes, but so did Riley."

  • ESPN's John Saunders: "Amid the uproar surrounding the Lions hiring of Steve Mariucci this week was a footnote in Washington. A 41-year footnote. (HOFer) Bobby Mitchell retired this week as the Redskins Assistant (GM), many thought because Steve Spurrier allowed (TE) Leonard Stephens to wear his unofficially retired number 49 and though he was hurt, it was nothing compared to being passed over time after time for the GM's job" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 2/9).

Heard elsewhere over the weekend:

  • NBA Commissioner David Stern, on the LeBron James saga: "The sleazy point (is) that you've got a situation of a high school that's taking it's games, putting them into a 6,000-seat college arena, putting it on pay-per-view, traveling the kids around ... in limos ... and this is high school basketball. Shame on them" ("OTL," ESPN, 2/9).
  • ESPN's Max Kellerman, on Reggie Jackson advising James: "(Jackson) will presumably teach LeBron how to anger his teammates and claim to be misquoted by the press" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/7).
  • Boston Globe columnist Jackie MacMullen, on the same issue: "Maybe (James) wants his own candy bar" ("PTI," ESPN, 2/7).
  • San Jose Mercury News columnist Skip Bayless, on the 49ers' head coaching search: "I think a lot of the 49ers fans are embarrassed that the once proud 49ers are just caught flat-footed right now at a time no candidate worthy of this job seems to be available. ... They are groping and groveling and coming up with a very unimpressive list of candidates" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 2/7).
  • NBC's Glenn Parker, on the NFL's minority hiring practice: "What's the NFL going to do to enforce this rule? It's one thing to mandate a rule and then not do anything about it. It is a charade when you know who they're going after" ("AFL on NBC," NBC, 2/9).
  • ESPN's Kevin Frazier, on a new WNBA ad featuring WNBA players, including Sacramento Monarchs G Ticha Penicheiro wearing a leather pant suit: "Things changed a little bit in the WNBA. Ticha Penicheiro was one of my favorite players before she put on the leather" (ESPN, 2/7).
  • ESPN Radio Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, on Penguins Owner Mario Lemieux's assertion that he needs more support from fans and the corporate community: "It's my feeling that from now on, no one is going to hold a gun to (his) head to keep the team in Pittsburgh. He's been pretty much propping up a fairly sorry franchise since he was drafted in 1984" (ESPNews, 2/7).
  • Barkley, on Sonics G Brent Barry shooting well in the 3-point contest, drawing comparisons to Larry Bird: "Nothing personal, but him and Larry Bird, the only thing they got in common is they're both white" (TNT, 2/8).

THE BACK PAGES

The Morning Buzz offers today's back page sports covers from some of the nation's major metropolitan tabloids:

N.Y. Post
N.Y. Daily News
Philadelphia Daily News
Boston Herald


TODAY'S EVENTS

SportsLine.com Founder & CEO Michael Levy is scheduled to present at the Wall Street Analyst Forum's 47th Institutional Investor Conference at 10:20am ET (THE DAILY).


EARNINGS ANNOUNCEMENTS

Below are this week's confirmed earnings announcements for sports-business related companies (THE DAILY).

DATE TICKER COMPANY
QUARTER
2/10 GET Gaylord Entertainment
Q4 2002
2/11 CVC Cablevision
Q4 2002
CHDN Churchill Downs
Q4 2002
HUF Huffy
Q4 2002
TRK Speedway Motorsports
Q4 2002
2/12 BFT Bally Total Fitness
Q4 2002
FOX Fox Entertainment
Q2 2003
OO Oakley
Q4 2002
NWS News Corp.
Q2 2003
VIA Viacom
Q4 2002
2/13 KSWS K-Swiss
Q4 2002
2/14 SCNYA Saucony
Q4 2002


IN OTHER NEWS….

This week's cover of TIME offers "Solving The Mysteries Of DNA." Meanwhile, NEWSWEEK examines "The Case For War" (THE DAILY).

USA TODAY reports that the advertising industry is "quietly putting itself on a wartime footing." Marketers are "sticking 'war clauses' into contracts to avoid having their ads next to violent images or grim news, [and] … advertisers are poring over their TV and print ads to identify work that consumers might deem offensive depending on war news" (USA TODAY, 2/10).

Meanwhile, the N.Y. TIMES reports that CNN, Fox News and MSNBC execs said that "they expected to suspend all advertising for at least the first days of a war" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/10).

CBS MARKETWATCH reported that former AOL Time Warner Vice Chair Ted Turner sold $5M in shares of the company's common stock. Turner "sold 450,000 shares … between $11 and $11.26 apiece" (CBS MARKETWATCH, 2/7).

USA TODAY reports that SBC Communications is in preliminary talks to acquire DirecTV, a move "that could shake up cable, satellite and phone sectors" (USA TODAY, 2/10). The N.Y. TIMES notes "at $10[B] or more in cash, buying DirecTV is expensive and risky" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/10).

The N.Y. TIMES reported that ABC's Thursday night "20/20" special on Michael Jackson was one of the "most-watched programs of the current television season with more than 27 million viewers, leading ABC to its first ratings victory on a Thursday night in more than eight years" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/8).

AD AGE reports that Coca-Cola and CMO Steve Jones are "parting ways," and possible replacements include Motorola VP/Global Marketing Geoffrey Frost (AD AGE, 2/10 issue).


FINAL JEOPARDY!

Friday's "Final Jeopardy!" category was "The History of Cliffs Notes."

"In 1985 Cliffs Notes' 'The Scarlet Letter' retook the top-selling spot; this book had briefly replaced it."


LAUGH TRACK

THE MONOLOGUES:

CBS' David Letterman: "Down at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, one of the prisoners attempted suicide. Apparently, he was depressed because he thought he would never get the chance to be a suicide bomber. ... A program reminder from CBS. The war with Iraq premieres Sunday night immediately following 'Becker.' ... How many of you saw Colin Powell at the U.N.? I thought he was pretty persuasive, but a lot of folks are still demanding more evidence before they actually consider Iraq a threat. For example, France wants more evidence. They demand more evidence. And I'm thinking, the last time France needed more evidence, it rolled through Paris with a German flag. ... The U.S. is now offering safe haven for Saddam Hussein and his family, if he wants to go into exile. It's the same deal the Democrats made with Al Gore. ... How many of you last night saw the '20/20' broadcast over there on ABC, the big two-hour documentary about Michael Jackson? Is it just me or did Michael seem a little off? During the interview, Michael Jackson claimed he had only had two nose jobs. Now, come on, that's like Bill Clinton claiming he only, oh well, you know" ("Late Show," CBS, 2/7).

NBC's Jay Leno: "Well folks, it's official. It looks like there is now enough evidence for the U.S. to send in troops. Not to Iraq. To the Neverland Ranch. ... Michael (Jackson) is complaining today. He said the (ABC's '20/20' documentary) portrayed him in a 'unflattering light.' I think that's called daylight. ... France announced today they will not help the U.S. remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq. Well, duh. They didn't help us remove the Germans from France. ... I think France is at Code Yellow. ... When Courtney Love was arrested on Virgin Airlines for being abusive to the flight crew, they said she was taking off her underwear and singing loudly. ... Isn't that Christina Aguilera's act? ... Kind of ironic, isn't it? Courtney Love flying Virgin. Isn't that like Bill and Hillary flying United?" ("Tonight Show," NBC, 2/7)

LATE NIGHT LAUGHS:

Last Friday night's Top Ten list was "Top Ten Surprises Featured In The Michael Jackson Documentary" ("Late Show," CBS, 2/7).

10) "Due to disappointing CD sales, most of his income is now from Amway."

9) "Neverland Ranch is just a one-bedroom condo in Queens."

8) "'Gong Show' fans may remember him as 'Gene Gene the Dancing Machine.'"

7) "The Elephant Man recently bought some of Michael's bones."

6) "Upon seeing the old 'Beat It' video, asked, 'Wow, who's that?'"

5) "Touching moment when he was reunited with his four brothers."

4) "Touching moment when he was reunited with his four noses."

3) "Put his fist through a wall when the Raiders lost."

2) "He had Bubbles stuffed and uses him as an ottoman."

1) "Turns out he's a loon."


SUNDAY NIGHT'S TV MONITOR

ESPN's 11:00pm ET 90-minute edition of "SportsCenter" led with Pittsburgh-Notre Dame NCAA men's basketball.


WEEKEND BOX OFFICE

The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER notes that the estimated total "for the top 12 films this weekend was $103.2[M] – up a considerable 22% from last year's comparable frame" (HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, 2/10).

Title
This Weekend
Cumulative
"How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"
$24.1M
$24.1M
"Shanghai Knights"
$19.8M
$19.8M
"Chicago"
$10.7M
$63.7M
"The Recruit"
$9.5M
$30.1M
"Final Destination 2"
$8.7M
$28.1M
"Deliver Us from Eva"
$7.1M
$7.1M
"Kangaroo Jack"
$5.9M
$52.8M
"Biker Boyz"
$4.0M
$15.5M
"Darkness Falls"
$3.8M
$26.8M
"The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"
$3.4M
$320.7M

FINAL JEOPARDY ANSWER

"What was '1984?'"


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