THE $95 MILLION SWEEPSTAKES
Last week's $49.2 million treble-damages antitrust assessment against the NFL for its role in trying to prevent the Oakland Raiders from moving to Los Angeles isn't the last word in that seemingly endless case. Still pending are 1) the NFL's appeal in federal court of the verdict last May that resulted in the aforementioned damages award to the Raiders and the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission; 2) the trial, scheduled to begin on May 16, of the city of Oakland's eminent-domain suit to return the Raiders to that city; and 3) Congressional action on a newly introduced bill to grant an antitrust exemption to the NFL that would force the Raiders back to Oakland.
As all this activity indicates, the Raiders' relocation to L.A. could still be reversed, and Al Davis, the club's managing general partner, knows it. Sensing the NFL's hand in the eminent-domain suit and the antitrust legislation, Davis last week called the league "the most powerful force in America." But Davis himself hasn't exactly been a pushover. He has won every important round in the protracted battle so far, and if he should beat back the remaining challenges and keep the team in L.A., his defiance of the NFL could wind up costing the league damages of $34.6 million to the Raiders and $14.6 million to the L.A. Coliseum, $10 million or so in interest on those sums, something like $25 million for its own legal fees and perhaps another $10 million if, as is likely, it is ordered to pick up the bill for the Raiders' lawyers.
The above costs total roughly $95 million. What's more, Davis doesn't think his team should have to pay its½8 share of any such liability. Accordingly, he's now talking about suing the NFL over that matter, too. Obviously, unless the NFL can reverse its luck in court or in Congress, it will end up paying a high price indeed for trying to keep a maverick in line.
WINNING IN A WALTZ AND A PIROUETTE
It may not have been a coincidence that the Philadelphia 76ers danced into the NBA playoffs with a 65-17 regular-season record. The Sixers, after all, have used a ballet instructor named John Kilbourne throughout the season as a flexibility and coordination coach. Kilbourne did graduate work at UCLA under the noted prima ballerina Mia Slavenska and, while there, helped condition the 1979-80 Bruin team that went to the NCAA Final Four. He later conducted clinics for the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns and moved to Philadelphia last September to work with the 76ers. He also teaches part time at the Philadelphia College of the Performing Arts.
Kilbourne conducts workouts before every Sixer practice and oversees stretching routines on game days. The purpose of the workouts, which last 20 minutes and include dance moves to music by Aretha Franklin, among others, is to help the players become more limber, jump higher and avoid injury. By having the players move together rhythmically, Kilbourne also believes he helps them "concentrate as a team." Philly Coach Billy Cunningham is all for the ballet instruction. "What sold me is the way the players responded and did the exercises," he says. "In the past we did some flexibility training, but a player always led. With supervision, it's much better." All of which is vindication of sorts for Kilbourne, who took up dance only after being cut from his high school basketball team.
REELING IN A BIG PRICE
"And now the book we've all been waiting for," intoned auctioneer George S. Lowry of Manhattan's Swann Galleries one afternoon last week. The tome in question, lot 439 in the Robert Buckmaster collection of sporting books, was billed in the catalogue as "the most famous of all books on fishing," a first-edition copy of Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler, published in London in 1653. The genteel cast of characters on hand, who looked as though they might have gathered to audition for an Agatha Christie play, stirred. Their number included Colonel Henry A. Siegel, the snuff-sniffing proprietor of the Angler's & Shooter's Bookshelf in Goshen, Conn., resplendent in a bold tweed hacking jacket; a rumpled publisher; several men in leather elbow patches; a bookseller whose luxuriant mustache and beard completely covered his lower face and upper chest; a Canadian enthusiast who bids under the name of Rising Trout and the white-thatched Buckmaster himself, a retired trial lawyer and broadcasting tycoon who serves as a trustee of the Museum of American Fly Fishing.
Many copies of the first edition of The Compleat Angler are in miserable condition, and so, despite a few shaved headlines and stains, among other flaws, the copy up for sale at Swann was described as "a fine and unusually large copy." In addition, the book had formerly been in the renowned angling library of salmon expert and author Dean Sage and bore his piscatorial bookplate giving it further provenance of some distinction. When put up for auction at the Sage estate sale in 1942, the book was bought for $975 by the celebrated antiquarian bookseller, Dr. Abraham Rosenbach, an ardent fisherman and a man who drank a bottle of whiskey a day. Rosenbach's widow then sold the book through a dealer to Buck-master. In its presale estimate, Swann figured the book would bring $6,000 to $9,000.