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WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Sparks May Be in Holdsclaw Lottery

July 28, 1998|EARL GUTSKEY

For all you grumbling Spark followers, already looking ahead to next season:

The Sparks may have a one-in-six chance of landing the player many believe will eventually become the greatest female basketball player on the planet, Chamique Holdsclaw.

Of course, a lot of Tennesseeans think she already is.

The league office isn't commenting yet, but two league general managers confirm that some sort of lottery--maybe numbered Ping-Pong balls, an empty fish tank with a lid and an air hose--has been talked about as a way the Holdsclaw derby might be handled.

All this is pegged to two assumptions:

* That the WNBA can sign Holdsclaw--and that's not a given. The ABL can be expected to make a huge offer, probably the biggest ever to a woman.

* That the Sparks continue stumbling, losing twice as often as they win, and miss the playoffs.

Holdsclaw, a 6-foot-2 senior-to-be at the University of Tennessee, was the only collegian on this year's U.S. world championship team in Germany.

SPARKS TO STAPLES?

Whether the Sparks will move to Staples Center with the Lakers is still being debated.

At the Forum, the club pays rent to the Buss family corporation that owns the arena.

"At Staples we'd also be paying rent, but that revenue wouldn't filter back down to us," said team President Johnnie Buss.

Also, at a Lakerless Forum, the Sparks would control all seating. Currently, many of the best seats are tied up in the Senate Seat ticket program and a similar such program is planned for Staples.

But since it is WNBA policy that its teams play in NBA arenas, wouldn't league President Val Ackerman have a vote on this?

"Yes, we have a vote," she said.

"I don't philosophically have any problem with them remaining at the Forum. It is our policy that our teams play in the building where the NBA teams are. But this issue in L.A. is still underway and we haven't addressed it yet."

PLAYOFF PLAN

The WNBA playoffs will match the two conference champions against teams with the third- and fourth-best records, regardless of conference, in two three-game semifinals series beginning Aug. 22. The three-game finals begin Aug. 27.

ABL TV DEAL

The American Basketball League, which earlier this month made a deal with CBS in which it will buy air time so that two games of its championship series can be televised, has made a similar "time buy" deal with Fox Sports Net.

Fox Sports Net, which is made up of 22 regional sports networks, including Fox Sports West and Fox Sports West 2, will televise up to 16 games, including 10 regular-season games.

Fox Sports Net televised 24 ABL games last season and Black Entertainment Television showed 12. BET is not part of the TV deal this season.

FREE THROWS

Valerie Still's "retirement" lasted about four months. The 37-year-old, two-time MVP of the ABL's playoff finals recently signed a two-year extension with the Columbus Quest. . . . Detroit Coach Nancy Lieberman-Cline on the stellar play of Spark subs Sandra Van Embricqs and Eugenia Rycraw during Lisa Leslie's two-game absence: "Never underestimate the will of subs who get what they perceive to be possible career-turning opportunities to show a coach what they can do."

The WNBA still hasn't decided how to place its two injured rookies, Kristin Folkl and Nykesha Sales. They could be lottery picks, go into the college draft a year late or be made available to expansion teams Minnesota and Orlando. . . . In the next WNBA draft, if the Sparks decide they need rebounding help, they might find it in their own marketing department. Yanick Clay, a 6-1 North Carolina senior and Inglewood High grad, is a summer intern.

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