JERRY LUCAS DECIDES
Jerry Lucas, that invaluable basketball property from Ohio State, is announcing this week that he will move with the Cleveland Pipers as they shift from the fast-expiring American Basketball League to the National Basketball Association. Lucas' decision to play in the NBA comes at the end of a long session of inter-league bluffing, protesting, claiming and counterclaiming as intricate as the raising of a Billie Sol Estes cotton crop.
The move to get Cleveland into the old league began eight weeks ago, just after George Steinbrenner III jolted the NBA by signing Lucas to play for his ABL Pipers. Behind a facade of indifference, the NBA was hurting from the loss. The league's television ratings were said to have dropped off (the NBA wasn't talking), and television makes the difference between survival and the hock shop in the NBA. The league needed a new star to increase TV interest. To come right out with it, the NBA wanted a new white star.
Steinbrenner, meanwhile, was itching to pull his suddenly strong team out of the floundering ABL and have it become the 10th team in the NBA. Unofficial negotiations began. Cincinnati, of course, didn't want Cleveland in, because it would then be facing the very player it had drafted but lost—and lost bitterly. Two other teams sided with Cincinnati.
But after some stormy private talk among themselves, the NBA owners told Steinbrenner the Pipers could get into the NBA for $450,000. "Nuts," said Steinbrenner. More private sessions "Make it $350,000," said the NBA. "Aw, fellows," said George. Still more private sessions, and finally the terms that Cleveland accepted: a $250,000 payment, of which $100,000 would go to Cincinnati to make the Royals feel better about Lucas.
However, Steinbrenner had been selling a team that included Lucas—and he knew very well he didn't really have Lucas to sell. Lucas' contract didn't bind him to play in the NBA, and as late as last Saturday he wasn't sure he would agree.
"It was settled over the weekend," said Lucas. "George offered me a contract that was better in all respects. I will sign for two years and have agreed to play a full season. And I'll admit I'm excited now about being in the best league there is." It was an awfully involved way to get a reluctant Lucas into the NBA, but the result leaves basketball followers sharing Lucas' excitement.
THE DECENCY OF SHARKS
The principle of giving the quarry a sporting chance is well established among human pursuers of fish and game. But is it possible that the quarry, turned pursuer, would do the same for humans? We quote from the New York Herald Tribune: "Sharks have been sighted off Barnegat Light, signaling a warning to swimmers along the New Jersey coast again."
THE DILEMMA OF STURGEON
A young Russian ichthyologist, Vladimir Protasov of the Institute of Animal Morphology, has been making tape recordings of the sounds fishes make. Protasov says herring sound like sparrows chirping, sprats sound like bumblebees buzzing; but the most versatile diva, he says, is the white sturgeon. It makes an awful fuss: whistles, howls, yells and gnashes its teeth. Well, why not? What if somebody was trying to steal your caviar?
RALPH, BOY, FORGET IT