When Washington State upset Washington a few weeks back and knocked the Huskies out of a third straight trip to the Rose Bowl there was dismay in Seattle, but it was nothing like the gloom that hit Yreka, Calif. Yreka (pronounced why-REEK-a), a city of about 5,000 in the northern part of the state, isn't to be confused with Eureka, a larger town not far away on the Pacific Coast. Yreka is inland, and its reaction to the Washington-Washington State game can be traced to the fact that it sits athwart Interstate 5, about halfway along the main north-south route from Seattle to Pasadena.
In short, Yreka is a natural stopping-off place for Washington football fans journeying to and from the Rose Bowl. Yrekans have grown accustomed to opening their arms—and their cash registers—to motorists from the north. They've taken to wearing Washington buttons and stringing banners saying YREKA HAS HUSKY FEVER across Main Street. The local radio station carried broadcasts of Washington's games, the only station in California to do so on a regular basis.
Last January, Yrekans grew especially fond of their friends from Washington when a big snowstorm closed down the Interstate just as folks were returning north from the Rose Bowl. Stranded in Yreka, they spent a lot of money there as they waited out the storm.
Naturally, Yreka was looking forward to the Huskies playing in the Rose Bowl again. A dinner this fall for local merchants was repeatedly interrupted by cheers for announcements that Washington was beating Arizona State, a victory that seemed to assure another prosperous holiday season in Yreka.
But the Huskies lost to State and blew the Roses and are traveling instead to the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. Yreka isn't on the road to Hawaii. And that's why Yrekans won't find the New Year so happy this time around.
The cries of poverty emanating from NBA owners have reached all the way down to the Continental Basketball Association, that minor league testing ground of equipment, rules and players for the NBA. Though the 1982-83 season is long since under way, the big league has yet to renew its player development contract with the CBA. Last year the NBA paid $152,500 for the right to sign any CBA player at any time. This year there hasn't been a dime.
That good deal cost each NBA club only $6,500 last season, or about $560 more than Moses Malone gets per day to tote his lunch pail. Some observers think, too, that the NBA balked because of the CBA's audacity in expanding into Detroit, long the territory of the Pistons. That the big league would worry at all is a surprise, because a) the CBA has coexisted with the NBA on four other occasions, most recently in Philadelphia two seasons ago, b) the CBA's Detroit Spirits hardly play the quality basketball that the Pistons do, and c) the Spirits play in downtown Cobo Arena, 30 miles from the Pistons' Silverdome home in Pontiac.
CBA Commissioner Jim Drucker says, "The NBA is misguided if it thinks we're a threat to it. That's not the case." Indeed, though the Spirits drew a CBA-record crowd of 5,048 to their Dec. 5 home opener against the Wisconsin Flyers, the Pistons are averaging more than 14,000 fans per game, 38% higher than last season's club-record pace and the fifth best in the NBA.