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C'MON, COACH K
After Duke beat visiting Georgia Tech 73-63 on Feb. 10, Blue Devil coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked why his team, which trailed at halftime, had started slowly. "We were playing NBA defense," said Coach K. "No help."
Such a ludicrous statement might be expected from someone who has never been around the pros or from someone like Bobby Knight of Indiana, who likes to trash the NBA. But as an assistant U.S. Olympic coach, Krzyzewski spent part of last summer with defensive demons like David Robinson, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, so he should know enough not to perpetuate a myth that deserved to die long ago.
Concerned about the sorry state of the Mavericks, who were 4-48 at week's end? Worried that those 13-38 Timberwolves are still light-years from the playoffs? Discouraged by a dilution of the NBA talent pool? The league office isn't.
It's a virtual certainty that at least one team and possibly two will be added to the league, probably after the conclusion of the 1995-96 season. And it's a lock that Toronto will get a team. The NBA already has one application from Toronto, and at least three other groups in that city are mustering their resources to make a bid for a franchise.
The fee for each new team will be somewhere between $80 million and $100 million. The NBA has kicked around the $100 million figure, but Canadian sources believe it will be closer to $80 million, which is still $5 million more than the recent selling price of the playoff-bound Spurs. The last four teams to join the league—the Heat, the Hornets, the Magic and the Timberwolves—each paid only $32.5 million for the privilege.
Why Canada? Because it's ripe for a new game. The NBA was not in what commissioner David Stern calls "an expansion mode" until it received an application from the Toronto investors known as the Palestra Group, headed by local businessman Lawrence Tanenbaum. Soon came avid expressions of interest from the other Toronto groups—all of them on firm financial footing in the eyes of the NBA—and even some nibbles from groups representing Vancouver.
All of that interest set off the magic two-word bell in Stern's head—global market. Further, the league was impressed by Toronto's baseball success (the Blue Jays drew 4,028,318 fans last season, tops in the majors) and by the fact that Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson consistently finish ahead of hockey players like Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux in Canadian popularity polls.
Can you whistle O Canada!?