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But not around the players. The court said the players must be represented at talks on rights and contracts and that any agreement must be approved by the court. "As long as player rights are protected, we're not against the merger," says Peter Gruenberger, NBA Players Association counsel.
What that means is the reserve clause, which the players want abolished. The ABA, eager for peace, is willing to drop the clause if that will bring about an end to the war with the NBA. But the richer, more secure NBA remains cool to the idea, and—at least for the moment—to the merger, too.
Memphis has hopes—admittedly slim—of landing an expansion franchise in the National Football League. Sometimes the hopes get in the way of reality. Faced with the probability of an embarrassingly small gate in Memphis for an exhibition game between the Baltimore Colts and the Detroit Lions, a member of the Shelby County Court called a special meeting at which he proposed that $30,000 in county tax money be used to buy tickets to hype the gate. He suggested that the city of Memphis match the sum. The tickets thus purchased could be distributed among underprivileged youths, there would be a nice crowd and the pro people would not be too disappointed.
"It's a lot of nonsense," said a fellow member of the Court. "The NFL people aren't a bunch of fools." A third said the plan would "just draw attention to the fact that the public has not supported the game." Abashed, the man who had called the meeting joined in voting to table the idea and forget it.
Local people thought he might have been inspired by certain members of the Tennessee state legislature, who last winter proposed that state funds be provided for the legislators to go to St. Louis to see Memphis State play UCLA in the NCAA basketball finals. They, too, backed down amid guffaws.
STRONG MORAL FIBER
Bobby Orr is hockey's best player but not its highest paid. The reason: he signed a five-year $1 million contract two years ago, before the all-out bidding war between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association sent salaries sky high. Now Orr's representative, Alan Eagleson, who is also the legal representative of the NHL Players Association, is trying to renegotiate the final three years of Orr's contract. The Boston Bruin management has no objection; it wants Orr, and it wants him happy.