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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Even Chump Change Is Too Much to Pay for Tyson

June 30, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Two years ago, when Mike Tyson returned from prison to fight Peter McNeeley, my friend Guy and I talked about splitting the pay-per-view cost and watching it on television.

His wife, Claudine, was offended.

The $39.95 we would be contributing to Tyson's payday was an issue with her. But it wasn't the main one. How, she asked, could we justify our apparent infatuation with a man who had been convicted of rape and had not offered one sign of remorse, much less an apology.

We appealed to her as detached sports observers, not fans, telling her the fight was bound to become part of boxing's history and that we felt compelled to witness it.

She didn't buy our weak explanation.

We didn't buy the fight.

Nor would I buy one of Tyson's fights. Until Saturday night.

I could say I believed Tyson had paid his debt to society and deserved another chance. I could say I believed he was a changed man, that he had been softened by devotion to his children and Allah's teachings. Probably, I was overcome by the hype.

I never doubted Tyson raped Desiree Washington. Her testimony that she was "ripped apart" against her will was too compelling.

I know others who did doubt it. Even five of the jurors who convicted him reportedly said they might have voted otherwise if everything they later heard out of court had been admitted by the judge.

None of the facts in that case changed Saturday night in Las Vegas. But I can't believe anyone who saw Tyson's vicious attack could now argue resolutely for his innocence or that anyone cannot imagine the terror Desiree Washington must have felt in that Indianapolis hotel room.

The maiming of Evander Holyfield by biting his ears was the act of a sick, vicious man.

Even Don King, in a television interview, seemed stunned after witnessing Tyson's uncontrollable rage.

"I don't want to say anything irrational," said the king of irrationality.

Rationality in this case is the responsibility of the Nevada Athletic Commission. I'm sure Tyson will eventually be banned. He doesn't belong in a sport, not even one as violent as boxing.

I'm equally sure he will return to the ring, sometime, somewhere, and has not seen the last of his $30-million paydays. Shame on me if I ever again contribute to one of them.

*

When Mike Piazza said the Dodgers have difficulty relating to each other because of their various nationalities, he was careful not to single out any one group for perpetuating the problem. . . .

Yet, Raul Mondesi seemed to think he did, telling the Spanish-language daily, La Opinion, that Latins on the team took offense at Piazza's remarks. . . .

That proved Piazza's point. As Strother Martin says in "Cool Hand Luke," "What we've got here is a failure to communicate." . . .

We occasionally are afflicted with that in the media. I reported last week that "Daily Variety" reported Kobe Bryant was up for a role in Spike Lee's basketball movie, "He Got Game.". . .

"Daily Variety" now reports that the role probably will go to Milwaukee's Ray Allen. Bryant is committed to classes this summer at UCLA. . . .

Just because the NBA draft is behind us doesn't mean phones have stopped ringing in the Laker offices. I'll be surprised if both Elden Campbell and Nick Van Exel are still with the team when the season opens. . . .

Mitch Richmond is not keeping it a secret he wants out of Sacramento and would like to be traded to the Lakers. . . .

Even if he doesn't become a Laker, he will be here for the first annual "Mitch Richmond Hollywood Hoops and Golf for Charity." . . .

The basketball game, also featuring Karl Malone, Scottie Pippen, Reggie Miller, the Hardaways--Tim and Penny--and the thespian Allen, is scheduled for July 12 at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. . . .

You can get a look at the latest high school millionaire, Tracy McGrady, on Aug. 2 at the Forum in Magic Johnson's Midsummer Night's Magic all-star game. . . .

Upon his trade to the St. Paul Saints for Ila Borders, Duluth's Keith English said, "I got traded for a girl; it can't get any worse than that." . . .

I was going to tell Borders to stick it in his ear the next time she pitches to him, but, after Saturday night, I hope she just strikes him out.

*

While wondering if this wouldn't be the perfect time for Holyfield to retire, I was thinking: I fear for Tyson's life expectancy when he compares himself to Sonny Liston, Mark McGwire won't hit 60 home runs without Geronimo Berroa to protect him in the batting order, I hope Mars is more worth the wait than Venus.

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