Talkin' the Talk
Michael Johnson may have won the 200 and the 400 meters in Atlanta, but he lost his chance for a less aerobic, more acerbic double on Aug. 7 by forgoing a morning heat on Rosie O'Donnell to save energy for an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. (No, Johnson didn't petition network execs for a schedule change.) While Johnson chose Jay Leno's Tonight Show for his second leg eight days later, soccer striker Mia Hamm and swimmer Amy Van Dyken pulled off a Rosie-and-Dave double, though not on the same day. Meanwhile, beach 'ballers Karch Kiraly and Kent Steffes did Tonight, and Carl Lewis executed a rare triple stump: Leno, Conan O'Brien and Tom Snyder. Letterman also horsed around with the women's gymnastics team, albeit without Kerri Strug, who spurned her pixie pals for a solo turn on Leno.
Our favorite post-Olympic TV tale comes from Chicago, where on Aug. 5 softballer Dani Tyler, following an appearance on the local Fox affiliate, emerged from the studio to find that her car had been towed. Perhaps that wasn't surprising; Tyler had famously parked her foot in the wrong place, failing to touch the plate after hitting a home run against Australia, a misstep that led to the U.S.'s lone Olympic loss. All's well that ends well, however. Fox footed the bill for the tow.
The Wethead Is Dead
In addition to being coach and president of the Miami Heat, Pat Riley charges corporations $45,000 per appearance to dispense wisdom on how to become a more successful executive. But one business tenet seems to have escaped Riley. It's a maxim even the kid in the mail room should know: Before you hire anyone, check with the folks in accounting.
Riley learned that lesson the hard way last week, when Miami lost free-agent forward Juwan Howard to his original team, the Washington Bullets, because the NBA ruled that the seven-year, $100.8 million contract Howard signed with the Heat on July 17 violated the salary cap. The league contended that Miami did not have available under the cap the $9 million it had agreed to pay Howard next season. Miami's miscalculation was the result of two Riley blunders: First, the Heat failed to count against the cap $2.5 million in incentive clauses in the contracts of Tim Hardaway and P.J. Brown; and second, according to the league, Miami agreed to terms with center Alonzo Mourning before signing Howard, which meant that Mourning's salary would count against the cap as well. (The league eventually dropped the latter charge as part of last week's settlement.)
The Heat contended that the incentive clauses—which go into effect if Miami wins 27 home games and 43 overall—should not have counted against the cap because they were "unlikely" to kick in. This is disingenuous in light of the coach's championship-or-bust mentality. Riley also denies that any agreement with Mourning was reached before Howard's signing. But the Heat apparently didn't feel comfortable enough with its position to risk sending the dispute to arbitration, which, had Miami lost, could have resulted in a $5 million fine and a one-year suspension of Riley in addition to losing Howard. It hardly matters whether these were two innocent oversights or furtive attempts to circumvent the cap. The bottom line, as a CEO might say, is that this cost the Heat one of the best young forwards in the game and dropped Miami from budding contender back to the ranks of the also-rans.
As the G.O.P. gathered in San Diego last weekend for its presidential nominating convention, a program that has been a source of contention among Republicans resurfaced in Kansas City. The political football in question was actually a basketball—midnight basketball, the crime-prevention program hailed as a Point of Light by the Bush Administration, only to be reviled as pork and denied federal funding by the Republican Congress that came to power two years ago.
Despite having to rely entirely on local financing, leagues from 11 cities sent teams of at-risk urban adolescents to the second Mayor's Urban Symposium and Tournament (M.U.S.T), hosted by one of the most evangelical proponents of midnight hoops, Kansas City mayor Emanuel Cleaver. The participants spent their afternoons in workshops devoted to such topics as conflict resolution and job-skills development before tipping off each night and running past the witching hour. Playing beneath an OVERTIME IS BETTER THAN SUDDEN DEATH banner stretched across one wall of the gym at Kansas City's Central High, a team from St. Louis wound up defending its title.