PAT CROCE AND THE SIXERS
FAREWELL, PHILLY FANATIC
We generally like our sports franchise pooh-bahs to be neither seen nor heard, ideally constructed along the lines of the Lakers' Jerry Buss, who watches the action from a distance and opens his checkbook much wider than he opens his mouth. Over the last few years, though, two rather noisy bosses have come to the fore in the NBA, hey-look-at-me types who have found a way into the headlines almost as often as their players. One of them, the 76ers' Pat Croce, stepped down last week, leaving the spotlight to only one heart-on-his-sleeve landlord: Mark Cuban of the Mavericks (everyone say, "Ugh").
Croce, the only NBA executive to have won two national karate championships, resigned as president of the Sixers after losing a power struggle for control of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the 76ers and the NHL Flyers. Croce believes, as did Robert Browning, that a man's reach should exceed his grasp, but he still seemed stunned when Comcast chair Ed Snider thwarted his attempted palace coup in the simplest way, by saying, No, Pat, you can't have my job.
Croce will apparently keep his 2.5% ownership stake in the parent company and will serve on the Sixers' newly created board of directors, a move seemingly contrived to keep Comcast from losing this popular Philly icon entirely. But as Croce said last week in a mixed metaphor that seems positively Pat, "My visibility is in the backseat now."
What does that mean for the Sixers, who were brought back to life under Croce's hand-pumping, back-slapping dynamism? Let's not inflate the importance of someone who was essentially a cheerleader, albeit one who scaled bridges and water towers to hang Sixers banners. He called some of the shots off the court but wasn't the one taking the shots on the court. Almost lost in last week's hubbub was the news that Larry Brown, one of the half dozen best coaches in hoops history, will stay with the Sixers.
Croce, however, made a huge difference in a franchise that had hit bottom under previous owner Harold Katz. He helped patch up the relationship between Brown and Allen Iverson, and—pay attention, Mark Cuban—he boosted his own team without denigrating others, alienating the zebras or getting in hot water with the league. "I'd rather wake up in the morning with Pat a part of the league than not a part of it," commissioner David Stern said last week We share that feeling.
A Love Story
On Sept. 25 Lions Gate, an independent studio known for such highbrow fare as The Golden Bowl, will release Anna Kournikova's first video. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY critic Troy Patterson gives a review.
Despite its nondescript title, Anna Kournikova: Basic Elements, My Complete Fitness Guide turns out to be a warm-hearted conceptual piece that asks tough questions: What is the relationship between mind and body? Where does one draw the line between passion and obsession? What would a workout be without proper attention to the glutes?
Kournikova is an ingenue with an approach to performing that's both intuitive and canny. At times, her endearing sincerity is reminiscent of Christina Ricci's. In an early section titled "Jump Rope," she exhorts us, "Try jumping on one foot only. Don't lose your balance!" The tenderness of her concern is palpable. Unfortunately, she's hindered by the trendily alinear direction of David Wohlstadter, who repeatedly interrupts the narrative flow with "Nutrition Tips." Nonetheless, she maintains a glowing intensity through "Stability Ball with Weights," bringing a nuanced giddiness to her biceps curls.