Heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe's first-round destruction of Michael Dokes on Feb. 6 left such an odor that Bowe's handlers last week tried to perfume the air. Raising hopes of an imminent showdown between Bowe and Lennox Lewis, the one heavyweight bout everyone wants to see, Bowe's manager, Rock Newman, made a splashy offer to the Lewis camp: a $32 million, winner-take-all fight in June in Las Vegas.
Trouble is, Newman knew his offer was one Lewis's camp could only refuse. Neither boxer would dare risk everything in a bout that might be decided by Las Vegas judges. Moreover, Newman laced his offer with a poison he knows has no antidote: Lewis would first have to renounce his WBC championship, his one claim to titular legitimacy. Bowe is the IBF and WBA champ, but the WBC stripped him of its crown in January for refusing to make his first defense against Lewis.
It remains unlikely that a Bowe-Lewis fight will take place anytime soon. Instead, the two fighters will yawn their way through a succession of lesser bouts, collecting paychecks at minimal risk as they build the gate for their eventual meeting, probably in mid-1994. That's the way it's done in boxing, a sport that has always been perfume resistant.
February 22, 1993
When two more star basketball players transferred recently to Martin Luther King High, coaches at the six other schools in the Chicago Public League's Red-Central Section decided they had had enough. They vowed to have their teams boycott games with King to protest the way the Jaguars have benefited from a liberal transfer rule that allows Chicago students to move to other city high schools to pursue an academic program if the program is not offered at their own schools.
The target of the boycott was King's bejeweled, sax-playing coach, Landon (Sonny) Cox, who has stocked the Jaguars with more talent than most college teams. Cox has been accused of misrepresenting his players' academic accomplishments and of accepting money from college recruiters, charges he denies. He has a 319-33 record in 12 years at King and has won four city and two state championships since 1986. His current juggernaut, which as of Sunday was 21-0 and ranked second in the nation by USA Today, features two agile 7-foot seniors, Rashard Griffith and Thomas Hamilton, and so many gifted transfers—eight since last season—that Toporis Nash, a 6'6" junior who was averaging 28 points a game when he transferred on Feb. 4 from Near North High, may not even start.
The boycott by Cox's rivals was meant to slow his efforts to load up on talent before July 1, when a new state athletic association rule tightening transfer procedures will take effect. The boycott lasted exactly one game, which Gage Park High forfeited to the Jaguars on Feb. 4. It ended after Chicago school officials said they would see if existing rules had been flouted. Robeson High coach Charles Redmond, who had resigned when his principal ordered the school's team to play its scheduled game with King, resumed coaching in time to see his Raiders get pasted 81-62 last week by the Jaguars. Afterward, Cox said of his fellow coaches, "If they don't want to coach, they should retire."
The transfer rule has also been exploited by other schools, as when three players from South Shore and one from Vocational transferred to Carver last year. The flood of transfers has given Chicago what amounts to high school free agency. At the moment Cox is merely exploiting it better than anyone else.
Jumping teams isn't the only grown-up game high school kids are playing. As if the Indiana state basketball tournament weren't grand enough, this year's championship, in Indianapolis's 60,000-seat Hoosier Dome (the former site, 16,500-seat Market Square Arena, home of the Pacers, was abandoned in 1990 as too small), will for the first time feature NBA-style three-point and slam-dunk contests.
And 10 members of the Roscoe (N.Y.) High team have been suspended from the team for the season for betting on their own games. The amounts wagered were only $1, and the players said they bet because they were bored with their losing season; the Blue Devils were 0-13 at the time of the suspensions and 0-17 as of Sunday. Still, such bets are against the law in New York, and it should be noted that some of the kids bet on their team to lose.
Oh, yes, the first thing the Roscoe students did when they were suspended was hire a lawyer. Very grown-up.
College basketball coaches are crying foul over the dismissals of three of their own: California's Lou Campanelli, Army's Tom Miller and Utah State's Kohn Smith (who will finish out the season). Campanelli's firing was described as "appalling" by Georgia Tech's Bobby Cremins, "a shock" by North Carolina's Dean Smith and "unprecedented, unwarranted and, most especially, unjust" by UNLV's Rollie Massimino. Regrets have also been voiced on behalf of Miller and Smith.
Who scripts this stuff, anyway? Noting that Cal was a disappointing 10-7 under Campanelli and that Army and Utah State were sub-.500, many coaches contended that the firings reflected a win-at-all-cost mentality on the part of the schools. But poor play wasn't the three coaches' only sin, though you wouldn't know that to hear Indiana's Bobby Knight, who said they were fired "without any good reason."
O.K., how about these reasons? West Point brass said that Miller had "publicly degraded" his players; his practice of yelling in their faces was said to be "totally inappropriate." Smith is a poor communicator who has yelled at his players and knocked them in public. Campanelli blamed his players, not himself, for defeats. After a road loss in December, he didn't accompany the team back to the hotel. This month he turned over a table during a team dinner, after which 10 players went to school officials to complain, in effect, that a coach who demanded discipline couldn't control himself. The complainants did not include star freshman Jason Kidd, who nevertheless made his feelings known after Campanelli's departure when he said, "We're a family again."
Inevitably, some coaches reacted to the firings by objecting that the lunatics were running the asylum. But should coaches like Campanelli, Miller and Smith be in charge? When a coach complains, as Campanelli often did, that his players don't listen to him, it may mean that he's not much of an educator. As Maryland athletic director Andy Geiger said, a college basketball team "is not the coach's team. It's the university's team. It belongs to the players as much as it does to anyone."
Schools do overemphasize winning, of course. But for a truer indication of this, check out the coaches who aren't fired. Does anybody think that Indiana would have put up with Knight's boorish behavior for 22 years if he weren't a winner? Untroubled by such questions, the college basketball coaches' association a few years ago set up a fund providing as much as $2,000 to any dismissed coach for counseling, career guidance and rehabilitation. No such fund has been established for players who are degraded by coaches.
Money to Burn
George Killian, the executive director of the National Junior College Athletic Association and the president of FIBA, the international basketball federation, thinks the U.S. Olympic Committee is wasting money. At last week's USOC board meeting, at a posh resort in Phoenix, Killian, arguing that the money lavished on such gatherings would be better spent on athletes, vainly sought to have the board's next meeting, in Salt Lake City in June, canceled. "We haven't taken a single vote," Killian said. "These people don't want to give up their perks. The hors d'oeuvres last night were delicious. But is that what it's all about?"
Credit Killian with the best comment on such profligacy since humorist Dave Barry wrote of last year's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro: "Scientists detected a large new hole in the ozone layer, believed to be caused by fumes from [the] flaming desserts."
"It will be there whenever the viewer wants it, year round, 24 hours a day," said Arnold Palmer (left) last week in touting The Golf Channel, a pay-cable service that he and Joseph Gibbs, a cable-system and cellular-phone operator in Birmingham, plan to launch next year. The channel will provide live and tape-delayed coverage of tournaments from around the world—anybody for a replay of the Desert Classic from Dubai at 4:30 a.m.?—plus such hacker-oriented fare as instructionals, daily golf news shows and video tours of the great courses of the world. The electronic highway? Sounds more like an electronic fairway to us.
Readers may have done a double take at newspaper reports that suspended Cincinnati Red owner Marge Schott, whose latest racially insensitive remarks came last week on ABC's Prime Time Live, has feuded with her "minority owners." The references are to Schott's seven limited partners, all of whom are white.
They Wrote It
•Frederick C. Klein in The Wall Street Journal, reacting to a comment by Chris Webber (right), mainstay of Michigan's Fab Five, that he enjoys being surrounded by a strong cast: "Just wait 'til Dallas drafts him."
They Said it
•Karl Malone, Utah Jazz star, after falling one assist short of what would have been his first NBA triple double: "If I would have known it, I would have passed the ball."
•Paul Kennedy, an announcer on the Sunshine Network, proposing that Miami's NHL expansion team be named the Humidity: "Then they can say the Heat is bad, but the Humidity is what's really terrible."