SI Vault
Edited by Alexander Wolff And Christian Stone
May 08, 1995
Hypocritic Oath?
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May 08, 1995


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What's more praiseworthy about Washington Bullet forward Juwan Howard (above, center): his charitable foundation, which has provided a free game to anyone donating a winter coat? Or the example that Howard, who left Michigan after his junior year, set by graduating with his class last Saturday, which he did by completing correspondence and independent-study courses even as he played his rookie season? In contrast to some of the me-firsters lately infecting the NBA (SI, Jan. 30), we offer a few more examples of the league's many good guys.


Stands Out by...

Chris Dudley
Portland Trail Blazers

Donating $300,000 to I Have a Dream Foundation; giving $150,000 to fight diabetes, from which he suffers, and raising another $150,000 by heading a walkathon.

Joe Dumars
Detroit Pistons

Sponsoring annual charity tennis tournament for Children's Hospital of Michigan; telling Dream Team II coach Don Nelson he would accept fewer minutes in name of locker room unity.

Jimmy Jackson
Dallas Mavericks

Donating $100,000 to Ohio State, his alma mater; providing turkeys and gifts for underprivileged families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Jamal Mashburn
Dallas Mavericks

Giving $500,000 from shoe contract to Kentucky, his alma mater; covering cost—$360,000—of replacing one backboard in each of 201 public schools in Dallas system.

Dikembe Mutombo
Denver Nuggets

Making frequent donations and goodwill trips to native Africa; purchasing 10 acres in Zaire on which to build a medical clinic that he's paying for.

Kevin Johnson
Phoenix Suns

Founding St. Hope Academy in hometown of Sacramento and establishing college scholarship fund; sometimes refusing to sign autograph for kid unless kid answers math problem.

Hypocritic Oath?

It happens in every city when a local hero gets hurt: The team doctor appears on TV and in the public prints explaining the injury while looking and sounding like a star himself. A fan watching from afar assumes the team has retained the best possible physician to minister to the most famous and valuable body in town, and that's who that fan might naturally think of first when he or she requires treatment.

But medical qualifications are apparently no longer the only factor in some teams' choices of doctors. Because of the intense publicity that comes with the job, doctors and hospitals are willing to pay handsomely to become a team's "official health-care provider." ABC News has reported that the NFL's incoming expansion teams, the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars, turned what should have been a judicious selection process into an unseemly bidding war. The Panthers asked medical professionals interested in working for them to include in their proposals "funds available to commit towards sponsorship of Panthers (suite, radio, TV, signage, program ads, etc.)." Carolina general manager Bill Polian told ABC that the team ultimately ignored its stated request for "funds available" and chose its doctors entirely on the basis of quality. But the winning group, Carolinas Medical Center, will nonetheless give the Panthers medical supplies and X-ray equipment worth some $400,000 in addition to providing medical services at managed-care rates. In Jacksonville one medical group's bid of $4.8 million over five years—and its commitment to pay the salaries of the three Jaguar trainers and to buy at least $500,000 a year in advertising—wasn't deemed good enough. "The Jaguars didn't care about credentials or experience," says a member of another group that didn't get the Jacksonville contract. "They cared about advertisements, money up front and what they were getting for free. It was a business deal."

Of course, the ultimate victim of priorities so skewed that medical care is put up for bid are the men who play America's most violent game. "There are an almost infinite number of reasons a player shouldn't put all his trust in a team doctor alone," says Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics. "I'd like to suggest an unbreakable rule that requires every professional league to issue a Miranda-style warning to every player informing him that he not only has the right but the obligation to get his own personal physician. No professional athlete should ever have to depend solely on the team doctor for his medical treatment."

That's sound advice, not just for the athlete but also for any fan tempted to choose Doc Jock as the family physician.

Hoop, Directory-style
Following the proliferation of college conferences through the 1980s, which led to coinages that sound like insurance companies (TransAmerica), trucking lines (Big South) and vaccines (AMCU-8), more new ground was broken last week with the formation of Conference USA. The new league will feature six schools formerly in Conference Great Midwest, five refugees from Conference Metro and a single orphan, Houston, from Conference Southwest. We wish commissioner Slive Michael and the entire membership, including Florida South, Louis Saint and PaulDe, good luck in reaching the Four Final—and we promise not to mistake the league for a company offering long-distance teleconferencing services.

Talkin' the Talk

SI senior writer William Nack assesses the field for Saturday's 121st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Once again, as in 1988 when Winning Colors won the roses, the quickest racehorse in America's most famous horse race will be a filly. After weeks of public hedging, trainer D. Wayne Lukas announced Saturday that his brilliant filly Serena's Song would be joining his two 3-year-old colts, Timber Country and Thunder Gulch, in the Derby (page 42).

As many as 20 horses are expected to run, and the filly's presence in the mix makes Lukas's entry of Serena's Song and Timber Country the likely 5-2 choice to win what promises to be among the most competitive renewals in years. She's the straw that will stir this julep. And if form holds, the front-running filly will sweep off the final turn in the lead, with a squad of gifted colts giving chase: Timber Country, Jamron, Eltish, Afternoon Deelites, Tejano Run, Thunder Gulch, Ski Captain and Suave Prospect. And Talkin Man, easy winner of the Gotham and the Wood. Whether the filly can get the 1¼-mile Derby distance remains the most intriguing question of all.

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