SI Vault
Edited by Jack McCallum and Kostya Kennedy
November 06, 1995
A Black and White Problem
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November 06, 1995


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John Cooper. Ohio State coach refuses to pour it on after building 56-0 first-half lead over Iowa. Final: 56-35.


Michael Schumacher. Ties Formula One season win record (nine) in Japan as archrival Damon Hill spins out.


Randy Myers. Whacked-out fan who attacked Cub reliever on the field is banned from home games in '96.


British boxers. U.K. officials first to introduce compulsory prefight brain scans for pugilists.


Georgia gridiron geeks. World Series? who cares? Falcons, Georgia and Georgia Tech all lose at home.


Literacy in America. New jersey man sues because his tattoo was misspelled as Fighing Irish. Serves him righ.


Nick Faldo. Perfectionist British golfer brings tabloid karma to PGA after dalliances cause split with wife.


Dallas Mavericks. After previous drug and alcohol woes, Roy Tarpley continues to be a drain on team as stomach ailment sidelines the begoggled potential superstar.


Yankee legend. Joe Pepitone, 56, charged with drunken driving after wild ride through New 'York's Midtown Tunnel.


Steve Spurrier. Florida coach orders late flea-flicker with 28-point lead over Georgia; Superior, call Cooper.


A Black and White Problem

The NBA's David Stern is the best commissioner in pro sports, but his big blind spot throughout the years has been in dealing with referees. Now he's paying for it, and so is pro basketball, which, barring a quick settlement that did not seem possible at press time, will begin play on Friday with replacement officials.

The dispute is, as usual, about money. The union's proposal for salary increases of 22% over three years is too much, and the NBA's counter of between 6% and 6.4% over five years is too little. But the conflict goes deeper than dollars.

Over the last decade Stern has been unable to make his refs feel a part of the unparalleled success enjoyed by NBA players, coaches, team execs and league administrators. His hand-picked supervisor of officials, Darell Garretson, rules with impunity and intimidation, and over the years he had driven a wedge through the union ranks because some refs were afraid to go against him. Referees cannot talk to the press without fear of fines and other retribution, and they are constantly reminded by the league that fans don't pay to see them. "There's no question that David knew we were weak, and he worked us over for it," says Mike Mathis, a veteran official who is lead negotiator for the union. And now the referees, fed up with Garretson and united for the first time, feel compelled to win back some lost respect, as well as money.

They have ammunition. The NBA players' association, as well as superstars such as Michael Jordan and Patrick Ewing, are backing them, and preseason games have been unevenly officiated, to say the least. The NBA is most assuredly not happy that two of its marquee players, Shaquille O'Neal and Chris Webber, will miss part of the season with injuries that occurred in games that got out of hand.

Stern would be wise to get personally involved in the negotiations and get a deal done quickly. The public relations gains the commissioner made when he headed off a potential players' strike before the season would be diminished by a tarnished product during the season.

Ollie's Series Hopes Shredded

Atlanta radio station Star 94 (WSTR-FM) last week offered two tickets for Game 6 of the World Series to whoever could get the most famous celebrity to call the morning show. The winner, Santia Curtis, enlisted her cousin, the actor Samuel L. Jackson.

Show hosts Steve McCoy and Vikki Locke decided that Jackson, the bewigged and beyond-cool Pulp Fiction gunman, outfamed callers such as Atlanta mayor Bill Campbell, teen-film heartthrob Patrick Dempsey, has-been actor Elliott Gould and even Oliver North. Still, it's clear that North left an indelible impression. When he came on the air, Locke asked, "Is it true that you have a shredder in your car?" Responded Ollie: "No, but I keep one in my pocket."

A River Runs Putrid

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