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A Tyson Deal?

As SI went to press on Monday, sources told the magazine that negotiations were under way that could free former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson from prison as early as next week. Sources told associate editor Lester Munson that Marion County, Ind., prosecutors, as well as lawyers for Tyson and for Desiree Washington, the woman he was convicted of raping in 1991, have been talking about a deal that would free Tyson immediately. Originally sentenced to six years, he was expected to be released from the Indiana Youth Center in Plainfield in May 1995.

Sources say the deal would require Tyson to pay Washington $1.5 million to settle the civil lawsuit Washington has pending against him. Further, Tyson would apologize to Washington. An apology, in fact, has already been written, and both sides have tentatively agreed to its language, in which Tyson admits that he did something wrong and caused Washington harm but stops short of admitting rape. In turn, Washington would tell Marion County Superior Court Judge Patricia Gilford that she accepts Tyson's apology and thinks he should be released. Gifford, who was the trial judge in the rape case, would have the final say on any release.

A sentence-reduction hearing has been set for 9 a.m. on June 13. The deal could still fall through, but it's possible that Tyson could walk out of that hearing a free man. If that happens, Tyson, who is said to be financially strapped, may have to pay the $1.5 million in installments. But with a return to the ring, which is considered a virtual certainty, he could presumably increase his bank balance in a hurry.

Iverson's Choice

We're sure that eyes were rolling last week in response to the announcement that troubled high school basketball star Allen Iverson had signed a national letter of intent to attend Georgetown. Why, many were asking, would Hoya coach John Thompson take a convicted felon?

However, Thompson is exactly the kind of coach who should take a young man like Iverson. Coaches who are known for enforcing discipline and making sure their charges go to class—97% of the Georgetown basketball players who stayed for at least four years have earned diplomas during Thompson's 22-year tenure—should be the ones to take players with troubled pasts. If they don't, those young men will be left to the coaches who don't care about any aspect of their players' lives except basketball.

It's uncertain whether Iverson will be at Georgetown for the next school year. After serving four months of a five-year sentence for three felony counts stemming from a bowling-alley brawl in his hometown of Hampton, Va. (SI, Oct. 25, 1993), he was given conditional clemency by then Governor L. Douglas Wilder in December. Iverson still must complete his high school requirements, which one of his lawyers, Lisa O'Donnell, says he will do in July. Beyond that, to play as a freshman, Iverson must get a qualifying score on either the SAT or the ACT, which he failed to do in his first attempts at both tests. Iverson took the SAT again last week and will take the ACT on Saturday.

Thompson says he did not recruit Iverson; rather, Allen's mother, Ann, sought out Thompson in December (while Allen was still in prison), saying that she wanted a strong coach who could "guide my son in the right direction." Thompson believes his relationship with another player from the Tidewater area of Virginia, Alonzo Mourning, was also a factor. "Alonzo is a hero in those parts," Thompson told SI last week. "Everyone knows that Alonzo had a positive experience at Georgetown, and that might have been one of the things that prompted Allen's family to get in touch with us. Regardless of what's happened in the past, Allen is a bright young man who deserves a chance to pursue a college education. He will have to follow the same rules and accomplish the same things in the classroom as anyone else in this program." All coaches say that; Thompson may get it done.

Whether Thompson is the man to get it done for Iverson on the court is another question. Thompson's controlled style has generally worked against the development of flamboyant point guards, which Iverson, who led Hampton's Bethel High to the state title in his junior year with a 31.6-point average, clearly is. Thompson's my-way-or-the-highway philosophy has chased away several players over the years, including point guard David Edwards, who earned first team All-Southwest Conference honors last season after transferring from Georgetown to Texas A&M after his freshman year. But at this stage in his life, Iverson clearly needs a my-way kind of coach, and perhaps Thompson's way will be best.

On the Road Again

For Alberto Salazar, once the world's best marathoner, the last 12 years have been a long, hard run to a very different place. At the end of 1982, Salazar, then 24, held the U.S. records for 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters and had won all four marathons he had entered, including the 1981 New York Marathon, in which he set what was then recognized as the world record. The son of Cuban exiles, Salazar attacked his races with a macho arrogance more suited to the prize ring than to the track, forcing the pace and testing his opponents in every outing. In training he punished himself with unrelenting intensity. It didn't last.

Plagued by injuries and obsessed, he now says, with winning, Salazar lost two marathons in 1983 and finished last in the 10,000 at that summer's World Championships in Helsinki. The next year he placed 15th in the Los Angeles Olympic marathon and overnight, it seemed, dropped from the world-class level.

Last week, after a decade of obscurity punctuated by the occasional rumor of a comeback, a more serene Salazar, now 35 and the lather of three, reappeared on the world stage to show that when it comes to marathoning, he is in it for the long run. With that familiar hunched-over, shuffling gait, Salazar outran 12,000 entrants to win the 53.75-mile Comrades Marathon in South Africa, covering the uphill route from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on an 85° day in live hours, 38 minutes, 39 seconds, a near record for the event.

"What happened in the Comrades race was a miracle," says Salazar. "With 20 miles to go I was ready to drop out. At one point I even walked a few steps. But I kept praying; I recited about two hours' worth of Hail Marys, and God led me to the finish."

Though Salazar, who lives in Portland and works in Nike's sports marketing division, continued to train throughout his retirement, he says that only in the past few months has he begun to feel good again on the road. Despite his Comrades victory he has no immediate plans to return to the conventional 26-mile marathon, the event he once ruled. He will continue to coach a small stable of national-class distance runners, among them Mary Slaney.

"My endurance is still there," he says, "but I'm not ready to handle the kind of speed work I used to do. Whatever happens is fine. Before, running was my god, my reason to exist. Now, it's the way I share my faith."

Chamber Mates

At various times during the NHL season a Vancouver Canuck would climb into a 7½-foot-tall device that resembled a space capsule, settle into a padded chair, don a face mask and spend 90 minutes watching MTV and breathing pure oxygen. The scene looked like something out of a Star Trek episode, but it was serious business for the Canucks, the first North American sports team to use a hyperbaric oxygen chamber on a regular basis.

The chamber, developed in the 1940s to treat deep-sea divers suffering from the bends, delivers oxygen to damaged tissue at 15 times the normal rate, thus dramatically speeding the healing process. The chamber is one reason that Canuck players missed fewer regular-season games because of injury than the members of any other team. On March 27 winger Martin Gelinas slammed violently into the edge of the protective glass alongside a rink, incurring a massive contusion to his right quadriceps; he returned to the ice just two weeks later following two-a-day sessions in the chamber. Wing Geoff Courtnall played five days after straining a medial collateral knee ligament. Defenseman Gerald Diduck didn't miss a game with a nasty foot injury. Others, like All-Star Pavel Bure, rode the shuttle simply to combat fatigue.

"I don't know if it's magic," says winger Gino Odjick, "but it worked for me."

Now, if they could just find a cure for Ranger forechecking.

Mixed Message

Richard Williams, the father of two potential superstars in women's tennis, presents himself as an idealist who has resisted the lure of big money, kept his children away from the pressures of the junior circuit and tried to ward off premature publicity. Williams does deserve some credit for what he has done to protect his daughters, Venus (who turns 14 on June 17)and 12-year-old Serena, from overexposure. Yet Williams undercut his own message last week by appearing on an ABC Nightline segment dressed like a human billboard.

"The reason those kids go out there to play professional tennis, it's not because the kids want to go, it's the parents, the coaches, the endorsement companies, and everyone else that's rushing the kid along to be out there," Williams told Ted Koppel. At the time, Williams was wearing a cap and vest endorsing PowerBar, an energy food for athletes.

Heidi Johnson, head of tennis promotions for PowerBar, says that Williams does not receive endorsement monies from the company but that "something financial may well work out in the near future." Adds Johnson, "The girls use our product. We provide PowerBars to them." Williams also is paid an undisclosed "consultant's fee" by Reebok, which outfits the family for free. He does, however, do six to eight clinics per year in inner-city venues for Reebok.

Williams also made the point on Nightline that girls who go on the tour too early sometimes miss educational opportunities, ones that his daughters are presumably getting from being home-schooled in their Pompano Beach, Fla., apartment. He then tossed a misdirected dart at Steffi Graf. "I haven't seen one person yet at that age, 13 or 14, that was ready for life," Williams said. "We know that Steffi Graf's education and the way she speaks is not up to par."

Not up to par in which language, Mr. Williams, her native German or English, which she speaks fluently? Or perhaps you meant Italian, French or Spanish, all of which she is still studying.




If he makes it into Georgetown, Iverson (left) will have to work to put a troubled past behind him.



An older and wiser Salazar emerged from the shadows with a resounding win in South Africa.



Trevor Linden gets a gas out of his turn in the chamber


This Week's Sign That the Apocalypse Is Upon Us

A TEAM of scientists from Alfred (N.Y.) University worked for four years in the laboratory to develop a form of extra-strong safety be used in the windows of condominiums built next to golf courses.

They Said It

Roger McDowell
The Los Angeles Dodger veteran pitcher, on taking rookie bullpenmate Darren Dreifort under his wing: "I have to go to all the places he can't, to make sure he isn't there."