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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Maybe Life of Athlete Is Meant to Be Spree and Easy

May 26, 1999|RANDY HARVEY

One season after he choked his coach, anti-hero Latrell Sprewell has become hero.

While playing a leading role in the New York Knicks' resurgence, he has been rewarded by fans at Madison Square Garden chanting his name, newspaper headlines anointing him "Spree the Great" and a shoe contract, accompanied by a commercial claiming he personifies the American Dream.

Meantime, a distinguished group of coaches, administrators, journalists, ethicists and others gathered in the desert a couple of weeks ago to discuss a modern sports culture that applauds characters more than character.

Example: The publicity and endorsement dollars received by Dennis Rodman during his career, as opposed to Joe Dumars.

When the summit ended, the participants signed a document known as the Arizona Accord, vowing to encourage athletes to demonstrate the basics of good character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship.

(In contrast, the Spree creed might feature selfishness, disrespect, petulance, unreliability, recklessness and greed.)

On Tuesday morning, the Arizona Accord was unveiled during a news conference at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. You didn't need all of the fingers on one hand to count the number of media representatives there.

John Wooden, who was involved in drafting the document, prepared remarks but, upon seeing the small crowd, abbreviated them, citing a story about the rancher who wouldn't serve all of the oats in his feed bag if only one horse answered the dinner bell.

That's unfortunate because the message that he and his colleagues, who were brought together by CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition President Michael Josephson, have to deliver is a worthwhile one, one about helping shape the ethics of a nation through athletics and athletes.

I'm just not sure it will ever be heard over the chants of, "Spree! Spree! Spree!"

*

There's no question Rick Majerus sometimes gets frustrated coaching at a remote outpost like Utah. . . .

For instance, he recruited Lakewood Artesia's Jason Kapono for months, only to lose him when UCLA swooped in at the last minute. . . .

But for those who think such a devotee of discipline and defense as Majerus would be a perfect fit for the Lakers, don't get your hopes up. . . .

As much as he might like living in Los Angeles, he'd rather fast than coach pro basketball. . . .

Now, if a good college job here ever opens. . . .

Newspaper reports last Saturday morning in Las Vegas that Mike Tyson was about to be released from prison were met with yawns. . . .

In other words, it was just another Saturday morning after a late Friday night on the Strip. . . .

Anyone who believes that Las Vegas needs Tyson, as some argued when he applied last year for his Nevada boxing license, hasn't been there lately. The city is booming, with or without him throwing punches. . . .

There's considerable speculation about the opponent for Tyson's third comeback, but that's all it is. . . .

His advisor, Shelley Finkel, says he has yet to discuss Tyson's next fight with anyone, even Tyson. . . .

Although Pomona's "Sugar" Shane Mosley wants to move up two weight classes to fight Oscar De La Hoya, don't expect it to happen in the foreseeable future. . . .

De La Hoya probably will fight only once more as a welterweight, Sept. 18 against Felix Trinidad, and then move up in weight himself. . . .

Mosley may or may not be able to fight at 147 pounds, but he's definitely not ready for 154. . . .

HBO would like to match Mosley at 147 against Oba Carr, probably in late September in New York. . . .

The cable network would televise it live on the same night it carries the tape of the De La Hoya-Trinidad bout, which will be shown originally on pay-per-view. . . .

Fighting Carr is a rite of passage for great welterweights. His only three losses have been to De La Hoya, Trinidad and Ike Quartey. . . .

Carr knocked down both Trinidad and Quartey. He wouldn't venture a prediction when asked about Trinidad and De La Hoya but allowed that De La Hoya takes a better punch. . . .

The Westcoast Sports Associates will honor Sugar Ray Leonard with the Roy Firestone Award tonight at the L.A. Athletic Club. . . .

Formed to provide athletic opportunities for underprivileged youth in the L.A. area, the WSA provides principal financing for sports programs at Jim Gilliam Park and Recreation Center. . . .

Last December, Roy Firestone and WSA sent Jabari Parker, a 14-year-old baseball player chosen by Gilliam Park officials, to Cal Ripken Jr.'s camp in Hawaii. . . .

Pitching was supposed to be the Dodgers' strength and the Angels' weakness. Through last weekend, Angel pitchers had a 4.50 ERA and Dodger pitchers a 4.54. . . .

Read it and weep, Dodger fans: Ramon Martinez is expected to join brother Pedro in the Red Sox rotation by the first week in July. . . .

What's wrong with the Yankees? Well, last season Joe Torre could look down his bench and call on such players as Darryl Strawberry and Tim Raines. Sitting there this season are Tony Tarasco and Clay Bellinger.

*

While wondering if Pete Sampras will ever have Paris, I was thinking: You've got to give Jerry West credit for hiring Mike Dunleavy, it looks as if Mark Grudzielanek may be here long enough for us to learn how to spell his name, I'd rather be in Barcelona for the Manchester United-Bayern Munich game than anywhere else today.

Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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