THE TRUTH HURTS
Speaking their minds about the shoddy state of NHL officiating has cost Boston general manager Harry Sinden $2,000 and New York Islander center Bryan Trottier $1,000. Sinden, who like most club officials is a vocal critic of NHL officiating, was fined for publicly berating referee Kerry Fraser after the Bruins' 7-3 loss to the Canadiens in Montreal on Feb. 16. Referee Fraser had inexplicably failed to penalize Canadien Chris Chelios for a blindside boarding that left Bruin forward Rick Middleton with a concussion.
Trottier, who is also president of the NHL Players' Association, was fined by league president John Ziegler for his remarks in a guest editorial in the Feb. 27 issue of The Hockey News. "The quality and speed of NHL hockey is far worse than it was two years ago," he wrote. "The less skilled players are getting away with more because the officials have been less inclined to legislate against the garbage—the holding, the clutching, the grabbing."
When a player of Trottier's stature risks censure by going public on an issue as much in need of attention as NHL officiating, he is doing the game and its fans a service. If his criticism leads to better refereeing. the league should return his $1.000. with interest.
ACROSS THE BOARD
An enterprising Las Vegas bookmaker. Gene Maday of Little Caesar's Sports Book, had the kind of idea that separates the titans from the ribbon clerks in his business. He wanted to make book on whether Oral Roberts would meet what the evangelist claims is God's personal directive to him to raise $4.5 million by a now-or-never-ever deadline of March 31. Maday had hardly gotten around to thinking about the odds, however, when the Nevada Gaming Control Board intervened, saying such bets contravened state gaming policy.
"Unlike a horse race or sporting event." wrote board chairman Bart Jacka in his Dear Gene letter, "the outcome would be known, or known to a reasonable certainty, by the individuals in charge of collecting and tabulating the contributions being made to Oral Roberts."
Jacka claimed no knowledge of God's will in the matter, but when it comes to human nature, he's the devil's advocate.
When Judge T.P. Poulton of Division D Circuit Court in Palm Beach County. Fla.. learned that tempestuous John McEnroe might play in a local tennis event, he was moved to submit A Judge's Prayer to the county bar association bulletin. It read: "Please. Lord, let him come to the county. And please let him be involved in some small scrape so that he sues or is sued. And. Lord, have the case fall in Division D. Finally, please. Lord, have him argue after the ruling."
Last week the International Boxing Federation stripped Michael Spinks of his heavyweight title after he refused to fight the organization's No. 1 contender. Tony Tucker. The action left the Don King/HBO let's-have-one-heavy-weight-champion unification series in considerable confusion. At least for now, the vacating of the IBF title made Saturday night's WBC-WBA unification bout between Mike Tyson and Bonecrusher Smith the unification fight. But that figures to change because IBF president Bob Lee said that Tucker and No. 2 contender James (Buster) Douglas would fight to fill the vacant title.
"They left me with no choice." said Lee. "It's the first time I've ever had a champion actually ask to be stripped of his title. We didn't ask Spinks to fight, just to negotiate with us. but it was a flat-out refusal."
And where does all this leave Spinks? He refused to meet Tucker because he wants to fight the elusive Gerry Cooney. Last Dec. 22. HBO obtained an injunction prohibiting Spinks from fighting Cooney until Spinks had fulfilled his obligations to the unification series. "Now that we are no longer champion." said Spinks's manager. Butch Lewis, "we are going to ask the judge to lift the injunction." Spinks and Cooney. however, are less patient. A source has told SI that they have already signed to fight on June 15 in Atlantic City.
According to Lewis, a Spinks-Cooney fight would be for the true "heavyweight championship of the world." which is patently ridiculous—unless Lewis has in mind a world that doesn't include Tyson.
To head off a boycott of the Seoul Olympics by North Korea and its Soviet bloc allies, last June the International Olympic Committee offered North Korea the right to host archery, table tennis, preliminary soccer matches and part of a bicycle road race. It was a final offer, said the IOC. North Korea could take it or leave it.
Following a two-hour meeting with North Korean officials in Lausanne. Switzerland, recently, a meeting that was supposed to settle the matter once and for all. IOC president Antonio Samaranch emerged first. He said he had told the North Koreans. "I am very happy to note your will to cooperate. We have taken note of your acceptance in principle of our proposal.... Within this framework and for the purpose of advancing the detailed arrangements. I inform you of the IOC's intention to convene a fourth meeting in Lausanne between the national Olympic committees of the Republic of [South] Korea and the Democratic People's Republic of [North] Korea under the chairman-ship of the IOC."
Did the statement mean the North Koreans had accepted? "They thanked us for the proposal." said Samaranch. Does "thank" mean "accept"'.' "I think when they thank, they accept." said Samaranch. Might the North Koreans ask for more events at the joint meeting? "You have to ask them." said Samaranch. ' "But this fourth meeting will definitely be the last one."
Then Chin Chung Guk of the North Korean delegation emerged. Did you accept the IOC proposal? "No. we did not accept." said Chin. "We told them today we want more events." Will, as Samaranch said, the fourth meeting be the last? "There will be more." said Chin. "He will change his mind."
The process is called negotiating, and it is far from over.
OVER THE TOP
Dick Baldwin. 65. has been a lot of things to Broome Community College in Binghamton. N.Y., in his 40 years there, including English professor and public relations director. But it is as the school's basketball coach that Baldwin has made history. When his Hornets beat Fulton-Montgomery Community College 89-75 on Feb. 14. Baldwin became the winningest basketball coach in college history, superseding Adolph Rupp of Kentucky. 876 victories to 875. "I suppose they'll put an asterisk after my name because I was at a two-year college." said Baldwin, who is the only basketball coach Broome has ever had ' "That's OK I don't need it for my rèsumè anymore "
THE MAKING OF A MOVIE MOGUL
Hollywood has often found a place for ex-football players—Jim Brown. Alex Karras, Joe Namath, Rosey Grier, Ed Marinaro come to mind—but ex-basketball players have not fared as well. Jamaal Wilkes once appeared in something called Cornbread, Earl and Me. and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had a minor part in Airplane. But by and large the big men have been encouraged to seek work elsewhere.
One of those who got the don't-call-us-we'11-call-you treatment in Lotusland was Chet Walker, a 6'7" forward who retired in 1975 with an 18.2 scoring average in 13 NBA seasons. "I studied acting for a while, but my sole appearance was a guest shot on a TV series. The White Shadow." says Walker, whose Chicago Bulls regular-season single-game record of 56 points was broken last week. (Michael Jordan scored 58 against the New Jersey Nets.)
What Walker really wanted to be when he retired was an NBA coach or executive. What he has become instead is a movie producer. His apprenticeship was eight years as vice-president for production with Zev Braun Pictures Inc.. during which he collaborated on a four-hour miniseries for NBC called Freedom Road (Muhammad Ali and Kris Kristofferson) and on a TV movie for CBS. Still Watch (Angie Dickinson and Lynda Carter).
This year, however. Walker has hit his stride. In September, with the backing of CBS. he will begin shooting a film about Mary Thomas, mother of Detroit Piston guard Isiah Thomas. Jason Miller, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play That Championship Season, is doing the screenplay, and if Walker has his wish. Isiah will play his grown-up self.
Walker's inspiration for the film came as he watched a CBS News Sunday Morning show feature about Thomas's upbringing on Chicago's mean West Side. "What impressed me was his mother." says Walker. "Mary Thomas is a woman who lived in poverty but cared enough about her kids to keep them away from dope pushers and gangs.... I want to do this film to show the fight Mary put up for her children."
The film's working title is The Mary Thomas Story, and Walker hopes it will be ready for airing next Christmas. Isiah approves. 'She deserves it." he says.
THEY SAID IT
•Sylvester Stallone on the broad appeal of arm wrestling: "You've got guys from MIT and guys who can't spell MIT"
•Tim Babb, basketball coach at John Carroll University, on the length of the season: "I love the game, but I love my mother-in-law too. and I wouldn't think of living with her for six months."