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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Thursday, December 24, 1998

Stern sets Jan. 7 deadline to end lockout

AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK, Dec. 24 -- NBA players and owners finally know the
season's ``drop-dead date.''

Giving new urgency to negotiators trying to settle the
dispute, NBA commissioner David Stern on Wednesday set a
Jan. 7 deadline for canceling the season.

If there's no agreement on a labor contract by the time the
league's Board of Governors meets that day, Stern will
recommend wiping out the entire 1998-99 schedule.

It would be the first time a major professional sports
league in North America lost an entire season of

``If we do not have a collective bargaining agreement by
that date, then David and I will have to recommend to the
board that the 1998-99 season be canceled,'' NBA deputy
commissioner Russ Granik said Wednesday.

There was no immediate reaction from the National Basketball
Players Association. Stern, who was on vacation in Aspen,
Colo., went to Los Angeles and, according to Fox Sports
News, met with union leader Billy Hunter, who had been
spending the holidays in Oakland, Calif.

``It's my view that if the owners are unwilling to move from
their current proposal, the season will then be canceled,''
agent Arn Tellem said. ``I believe that ultimately when the
players analyze this, there is no way they will ever take
the deal on the table.''

No further talks are scheduled in the six-month-old dispute,
which centers on players and owners trying to decide how to
divide $2 billion in annual revenue.

``I assume that some additional negotiations will take place
in advance of Jan. 7, but nothing has been scheduled at this
time,'' Granik said.

Before Wednesday, Stern had adamantly refused to discuss a
``drop-dead'' date. Stern told Fox Sports News on Tuesday
that he talked to Hunter recently.

``I've told him we have serious disagreements,'' Stern said.
``I'd love to sit down and negotiate. I would say we are
getting pretty close'' to losing the season for lack of a
contract after owners locked out players.

Before this season, the NBA had never lost a single game
because of labor disputes. The lockout began July 1, and 358
games have been canceled since the scheduled start of the
season on Nov. 3.

Today is the 177th day of the shutdown. The last round of
bargaining took place Dec. 12, and players continue to lose
$50 million a week in salaries.

Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz and Kevin Willis of the Toronto
Raptors have said players should accept the offer Stern
mailed all of them last week. Willis said players should
hold a secret ballot.

``The majority would vote for the owners' latest proposal,
just to start playing ball again,'' Willis said Tuesday.

Tellem, who represents Kobe Bryant and Reggie Miller, among
others, said that if the owners' laand to all future players
in the NBA,'' Tellem said.

While baseball has had eight work stoppages since 1972,
including a 232-day strike that wiped out the 1994 World
Series, it has never lost an entire season. In 1918, the
season ended a month early when the United States entered
World War I.

The NFL and the NHL played through both World Wars and, like
baseball, never lost an entire season of competition to
labor strife. In 1919, the Stanley Cup playoffs were not
completed due to a flu epidemic.

In Houston, Texas District Judge David Medina scheduled a
hearing for Wednesday on a lawsuit by Nick Van Exel of
Denver, Marcus Camby of New York and Reggie Slater of
Toronto, who want to be cleared to play basketball in

American players cannot play overseas without clearance from
USA Basketball. The lawsuit alleges that USA Basketball is
conspiring with the NBA to keep the players from going
overseas, and asks for an injunction against USA Basketball.

Cowboys seek answers to woes before playoffs

AP Sports Writer
IRVING, Texas, Dec. 24 -- The common perception is once the
NFC playoffs begin the Dallas Cowboys will be sent packing
in short order.

Although they were the best team in a bad NFC East
division, Dallas showed less than Super Bowl caliber play
and just eked past lowly Philadelphia 13-9 last Sunday to
break a three-game losing streak.

Seven of the Cowboys' nine wins have come against NFC East
foes. Carolina and Seattle were the only other Dallas
victims. Dallas has lost to Minnesota, Denver, New Orleans,
Chicago, Kansas City and Oakland.

Cornerback Kevin Smith, who has three Super Bowl rings,
said the Cowboys are still capable of making a run to Miami,
but they have to play well in the season finale against
Washington on Sunday night in Texas Stadium.

Smith will start at right cornerback for the second week in
place of Deion Sanders, whose big left toe is still sore.

``I think we have just as much a chance as anyone else,''
Smith said. ``What's important now is that we play good
against the Redskins. If we can go 10-6 it would be a
complete reverse of the 6-10 that we had last year.''

No team has ever swept the NFC East in a season. That is
one incentive Dallas has going into Sunday's game. The game
will have no bearing on the Cowboys' playoff position, which
calls for them to host a wild-card team in Texas Stadium on
either Jan. 2 or Jan. 3.

``If we play like we did against Philadelphia I don't see
how we can go very far in the playoffs,'' safety Darren
Woodson said. ``We're not playing that great so resting guys
against Washington probably won't happen. We need to get on
a roll going into the playoffs.''

Fullback Daryl Johnston said he is proud of what the
Cowboys accomplished after what they went through last

``This is big for us to win the division,'' Johnston said.
``There is still a lot of pride on this team. There are
still some guys here who have been to three Super Bowls and
won them.''

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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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