- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In February, Veeck was voted into the Hall of Fame, and Purdy thought that Gaedel's uniform should be there with him. DeWitt agreed, as did Bill Guilfoile, the Hall's associate director. DeWitt sent the uniform to Coopers-town, and on June 28 it was added to the Veeck exhibit. According to Guilfoile, visitors have been lining up "four-deep in front of the display."
Veeck, who died in 1986, would have approved. He sold Gaedel on the stunt not only with the promise of $100 but also by saying, "Eddie, you'll be immortal." However, after Gaedel's moment in the sun, American League president Will Harridge removed his plate appearance from the record book. Now Gaedel's uniform is under the same roof as those of other baseball immortals.
Assuming the mind of the sporting public has not lost its capacity to be boggled, Patrick Ewing's refusal a couple of weeks ago to accept the New York Knicks' contract offer of $33 million over six years, well, boggles the mind. The contract would have made Ewing the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports. Ewing's one-two counterpunch—spurning the deal and requesting that an arbitrator decide if he can become a free agent before this season—appears to be an act of phenomenal greed.
But it's not quite that simple. First, Ewing would be within his contractual rights to request free agency, even if the Knicks had offered him $5 zillion a year. When he signed his current 10-year, $32.5 million deal before his rookie season of 1985-86, Ewing and the Knicks agreed that he could file for free agency after his sixth season if he was not one of the league's four highest-paid players. The Knicks, if they were not satisfied with Ewing's play, could terminate the contract.
Second, when Ewing's agent, David Falk, says that Ewing's stand "is not about money," he is being at least partially truthful. Should Ewing become a free agent, it is unlikely that another club will offer him as much as the Knicks, who can re-sign him at any price without that sum counting against their salary cap.
What Ewing's stand is most assuredly about is getting out of New York. If he really liked the Big Apple, he would have accepted the Knicks' offer, grabbed a trumpet and jumped onto new coach Pat Riley's bandwagon.
At the arbitration hearing on July 22 it will be the Knicks' position that Ewing, at $3.14 million for this season, is the fourth-highest-paid player in the NBA, behind the Cavaliers' John (Hot Rod) Williams ($4 million), the Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon ($3.5 million) and the Bulls' Michael Jordan ($3.25 million). Falk will argue that the Celtics' Larry Bird also makes more money than Ewing. Bird's compensation for 1991-92 will be $7.3 million, about $4.5 million of which is a deferred signing bonus. Falk will contend that the bonus counts; the Knicks will say that it doesn't.
Shed no tears for Ewing if he loses. Even if he is stuck with the Knicks for the next four seasons, Ewing will make at least $14 million. If he wins, however, save your hostility. He has a right to his freedom.
Two for the Road