At least no one in Kansas City had to choose between parties, and Sales, among many others, hit both. Even league employees didn't stick to the party line. "I feel a supportive environment," said Darsch, who chatted with coach Lin Dunn of the ABL's Portland Power at the WNBA wingding. The ABL bash drew high-profile WNBA players Lisa Leslie and Rebecca Lobo. Former Stanford stars Jennifer Azzi (ABL) and Jamila Wideman (WNBA) hung together at the WNBA fete while highlights from that league's first season played on screens in the background. "We all know each other from college," Azzi said, "and we're not going to let a professional decision stand in the way of whether or not we go to a party."
New Role for NBA Giant
In the vacuous My Giant, which opens in theaters next week, Washington Wizards center Gheorghe Muresan, filmdom's most accomplished 7'7" expatriate-Romanian actor, plays his celluloid role as he does his basketball role: with a stiffness that's painful to watch. We haven't heard an actor deliver his lines less intelligibly since that other Euro-behemoth, Andre the Giant, appeared in The Princess Bride. But Muresan, by his account, "enjoyed very much the whole experience" and even proved to be a quick study of Hollywood parlance. Asked if he plans on making another film, he responded, "If I find a script I like." With uncharacteristic seriousness he added, "I like being in movie, but I would rather play basketball because that is what gives me most pleasure."
Sadly, he may have to stick to acting. The Wizards won't say so publicly, but the word inside the Beltway is that the 27-year-old Muresan may have blocked his last shot. He won't play a single minute this season because of a stretched tendon in his right ankle, and Washington's doctors wonder if his legs might simply be unable to support his titanic body. Without the tallest player in NBA history swatting shots and dunking with his feet practically riveted to the floor—giggling all the while—the Wizards are struggling to gain the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference (page 70). Muresan, though, borrows a line from another curiously proportioned athlete turned thespian when he assesses his basketball future. "I'll be back," he vows.
The Eddie-Carmen Feud
Foes Change in Bay Battle
Back when Eddie DeBartolo's magnanimity and Carmen Policy's ingenuity were helping to sustain one of the NFL's longest-running dynasties, the two top officers (owner DeBartolo and president Policy) of the San Francisco 49ers used to joke that they were twin brothers. The longtime friends from Youngstown, Ohio, were often mistaken for each other in newspaper photo captions—and in life—and enjoyed a relationship so full of trust it could have been described as fraternal. Now, as a result of the legal and financial cloud mat has hung over the 49ers for several months, DeBartolo and Policy have apparently gone splitsville. They haven't spoken since shortly before the Super Bowl and are engaged in a down-and-dirty struggle for control of the franchise.
Their relationship deteriorated after DeBartolo became entangled in a federal investigation of a gambling license he obtained in Louisiana last fall (SCORE-CARD, Dec. 15, 1997). Policy helped devise a plan under which DeBartolo would cede control of the franchise to his sister, co-owner Denise DeBartolo York, with Policy gaining increased power and a 5% stake in the 49ers. For several weeks there was friction between DeBartolo and DeBartolo York, but it subsided after both came to believe that Policy was playing them off against each other. Though neither sibling would comment for the record, sources close to the family say both are convinced that Policy betrayed DeBartolo and DeBartolo York by assembling a group of investors to purchase the team and making himself the group's managing partner. Policy denies it. "If anything, I've gotten several calls from people who have shown interest," says Policy. "I've advised those people that the team is technically not for sale."
The apparent victor is DeBartolo, who, sources say, has a tentative agreement to buy out DeBartolo York and regain control of the 49ers. The deal, expected to be finalized by the middle of this week, would allow DeBartolo to purge Policy and initiate a front-office overhaul. Former San Francisco coach Bill Walsh would assume an executive position, and DeBartolo ally Joe Montana would come aboard as a minority owner with front-office responsibilities.
Policy, however, may have some cards left to play. One league executive says the NFL is concerned about DeBartolo's personal debt; he reportedly owes the DeBartolo Corporation upward of $50 million. Also, if DeBartolo is indicted by a grand jury in Louisiana—an indictment was expected in December, but the investigation has dragged on—either Tagliabue or the other 29 owners could attempt to block DeBartolo's return.
If Policy loses out in this struggle, sources believe he and his backers may attempt to secure an expansion franchise for Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Policy is playing hardball with his former mock twin. Policy gave Steve Young a $7.5 million bonus as part of a restructured deal; DeBartolo found out about it in the newspaper.