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Ever since negotiations between the Minnesota Timberwolves and
forward Kevin Garnett broke down last week, Minnesota fans have
been trying to figure out who to blame. Did Timberwolves owner
Glen Taylor blunder by disclosing that Garnett had rejected
Minnesota's six-year, $103.5 million offer, an indiscretion that
embarrassed Garnett and prompted his agent, Eric Fleisher, to
declare that Garnett would leave the T-Wolves when his contract
expires at the end of the season? Was Garnett, who will earn
$2.1 million next year, at fault for not being satisfied with a
deal that would have made him, at 21, the second-highest-paid
player in the NBA, in average salary, behind Michael Jordan? Or
was Fleisher to blame, for giving Garnett bad advice?

The answer: none of the above. The real culprit is the system
that made Garnett, about to enter his third season in the
league, a potential free agent so soon. Two years ago, in
response to complaints from owners and veteran players about the
huge contracts being signed by rookies--the 10-year, $68.2
million deal that forward Glenn Robinson received from the
Milwaukee Bucks as the first pick of the 1994 draft was the most
egregious example--the league and the players' association
agreed to hold down salaries with a rookie salary cap, but to
allow all first-round draft choices to become free agents after
their third season.

The first-round picks of 1995--including Garnett, Joe Smith of
Golden State, Damon Stoudamire of Toronto and Jerry Stackhouse
of Philadelphia--will be the first group eligible for free
agency under the new system, which is creating as many problems
as it solved. Instead of risking big bucks on untested players,
teams risk nurturing a player for three years only to lose him
as he enters his prime. Small-market teams have the most to
fear. If $17.3 million per year can't keep Garnett in Minnesota,
do Milwaukee or Golden State or Toronto have any hope of keeping
their top young players? The small-market franchises are in
danger of becoming virtual farm teams, grooming stars for the
clubs in large, opportunity-rich cities like New York, Los
Angeles and Chicago.

Even the young players who stand to make a windfall may find
they're not happy with the new system. Garnett, for example,
will almost certainly be a far wealthier man a year from now,
but by rejecting the Timberwolves' offer he has set himself up
for a tense season in Minnesota and has damaged the image of a
fun-loving innocent that had helped make him one of the NBA's
most popular players. Next time, the league and its players
should be more careful what they wish for.


To hear the television commentators tell it, the fact that Tom
Kite was able to remain on his feet, let alone finish fifth in
last weekend's PGA Championship (page 28), was incredible, so
crushing is the burden he carries as the U.S.'s Ryder Cup
captain. Golf writers also have waxed incredulous on the
pressures confronting Kite before the Sept. 26-28 Cup match in
Spain, perhaps recalling the travails of recent captains. In
1995 Lanny Wadkins allowed that he didn't get a good night's
sleep for a week before making his selections for the team. That
same year, when Europe captain Bernard Gallacher was asked by a
reporter about an upcoming pairing, Gallacher snapped, "Dammit!
I take enough responsibility around here without taking that
from you!"


If captaining the Ryder Cup is not the country-club equivalent
of coaching first base, it's close; the job is not that
difficult. With 10 team members receiving automatic berths based
on tournament performance, the captain is left to select only
the final two players. Granted, it's not easy to dis worthy
peers, but choosing Fred Couples and Lee Janzen over Tommy
Tolles and David Duval, as Kite did on Monday, was like choosing
between premium flavors of Haagen-Dazs. During the competition,
the captain assigns pairings, which does leave him open to
second-guessing. Wadkins, for example, was pilloried for relying
heavily on fellow Wake Forest alum Curtis Strange, who went 0-3
as the U.S. lost the Cup in '95.

Besides that, what's so burdensome? Will Kite help Tiger Woods
with his driving? Make an adjustment to Tom Lehman's long irons?
There's no sport in which a captain has less control of the
action than golf. Kite will not have to decide whether to pull a
double switch in the eighth inning, or to double-down on Hakeem
Olajuwon, or to go for it on fourth-and-two. We can only imagine
the advice Kite might give his top player before a crucial
match-play showdown: "Big fella, try to win more holes than him."


Eight months ago the sexual abuse of players by adults was a
dark and widely ignored aspect of Canadian youth hockey. But
when Sheldon Kennedy, then a Boston Bruins forward, revealed
last winter that he had been sexually abused for more than a
decade by Graham James, his coach on junior teams in Manitoba
and Saskatchewan, the innocence of a national pastime was
forever lost. Early this month the Canadian Hockey League--the
umbrella organization for Canada's three major junior
leagues--unveiled a 63-page report that assumes abuse occurs
and recommends ways to combat it.

"In junior hockey kids and parents have big dreams, and
sometimes they'll do anything to get to the big time," says
Gordon Kirke, the Toronto attorney who wrote the report for the
CHL. "People have authority over those dreams--by controlling
ice time or what line a kid plays on--and sometimes there's an
abuse of that power."

The report calls for a mandatory education program for all
players, coaches and officials from the 51 CHL teams; for
police-record background checks on club employees; and for
independent counseling to aid players who feel they've been
harassed. Already, because of Kennedy's disclosure, some CHL
teams have set up toll-free counseling numbers. Last week the
Ontario Hockey League, one of those under the CHL's auspices,
voted to adopt all 41 of the report's recommendations. It is
clear that a mission is under way. "I talked to Sheldon," says
Kirke. "He asked me where something like this was when he needed


Charles Haley, who in his 11-year career as a defensive end with
the San Francisco 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys won five Super
Bowls, has entitled his forthcoming autobiography All the Rage:
The Life of an NFL Renegade. The dust jacket promises "a frank,
outspoken look" at football, and indeed, Haley shows some grit
in passages on his rookie season and the way injuries ravage the
NFL. But the renegade was in a far better mood by the time he
got around to the book's photographs. His captions suggest an
author driven less by rage than by a desire to make nice.

Tackling the inflammatory subject of college ball, Haley really
lets it out. "I had some of the best times of my life at James
Madison," he writes under a shot of himself with two frat
buddies. Of his college coach, Challace McMillin, he frankly
observes, "Coach McMillin was a good coach and a good man."
Controversial Cowboys owner Jerry Jones takes this blistering:
"A lot of people don't like Jerry, but I've always gotten along
with him just fine." John Madden? "I love the guy!" Not even
former teammates are spared. This is Haley's outspoken
assessment of Joe Montana: "I've never seen a better
quarterback: Joe could do it all." Have mercy, Charles.


Ten years ago Kip Keino, the first of the great Kenyan runners,
confided to a friend, "We have a new one, a neighbor of mine who
is 16 and runs 1:46 [for the 800 meters]. His name is Wilson
Kipketer." Of course, the latest of the great Kenyan runners is
no longer Kenyan. He's Danish--or soon will be. Kipketer, 26,
whose odyssey from a farm in the Great Rift Valley to an
apartment in Copenhagen has been as challenging as any race,
broke track's oldest world record in an Olympic event at the
Weltklasse meet in Zurich on Aug. 13, proving that whatever his
country, he belongs among his sport's alltime best.

The 1:41.73 800 run by Sebastian Coe in Florence on June 10,
1981, had been Kipketer's target for several years. He had
broken 1:43 nine times, including in an astonishing five races
in a row last summer. On July 7 in Stockholm, he equaled Coe's
mark. Then, on a windless night in Zurich's Stadium Letzigrund,
Kipketer set himself apart. Wisely ignoring an insanely fast
pacemaker, a pack that included seven of the year's fastest
800-meter runners and a rapturous crowd of 25,000 that chanted
his name, Kipketer ran alone past the 400 mark in 49.61. In full
flight, he is a marvel to behold. Though he stands less than
5'8", most of it is legs, giving the illusion that he is much
taller. He finished in 1:41.24.

Kipketer did not grow up running long distances to and from
school, as so many other great Kenyan runners have. "I lived
right next door," he says. "I could walk nice and slow." Later,
Keino arranged for Kipketer to go to St. Patrick's High School,
a hotbed of track champions some 150 miles northwest of Nairobi.
Unlike many of his countrymen, Kipketer chose not to go to
college in the U.S. In 1990 he was recruited by Ovar Bjarn
Kraft, a club director who was seeking runners for the Danish
team. Kipketer moved to Denmark and began studying electrical
engineering. He now speaks fluent Danish and is living with
Pernille Falck-Hansen, a club-level Danish sprinter.

Kipketer won the 800 at the 1995 World Championships running for
Denmark. But the International Olympic Committee stipulates that
to run at the Olympics for a country of which he is not a
citizen, an athlete needs the permission of his native land.
Last summer the Kenyan federation, knowing that Kipketer's
presence in Atlanta would mean one fewer race up for grabs, said
no. "I did not feel any regrets," says Kipketer, who expects to
gain citizenship this December. "I made my decision, I paid the

COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH Capped for his first three seasons, Garnett is determined to take his contract to unprecedented heights. [Kevin Garnett in game]

COLOR ILLUSTRATION: JEFF WONG [Drawing of Steve Smith hitting hockey puck into goal]

THREE COLOR CHARTS: CHART BY NIGEL HOLMES [Charts not available---bar graph of Barry Sanders' earnings for 1997 to 2002; bar graph of Brett Favre's earnings for 1997 to 2003; bar graph of Steve Young's earnings for 1997 to 2002]

FOUR COLOR PHOTOS: ANDREW MCCLOSKEY [Barbie dolls wearing uniforms of four universities]

COLOR PHOTO: MARK THOMPSON/ALLSPORT Kenyan-turned-Dane Kipketer is worlds ahead of his competition. [Wilson Kipketer]


Victories by the New York Jets in the three exhibition games the
team has played under coach Bill Parcells.

Victories by the Jets in the 40 exhibition and regular-season
games played under previous coach Rich Kotite.

Reddish-and-gold-clad FSUs that have won five straight
conference football titles in the '90s: Florida State in the ACC
and Ferris State of Big Rapids, Mich., in the Division II
Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference.

Length, in yards, of the par-4 4th hole aced by 32-year-old
amateur Tom Renshaw at Hartland Golf Course in Bowling Green, Ky.

Umbrellas confiscated, per stadium policy, from fans at
Houlihan's Stadium in Tampa before a Buccaneers game against the
Miami Dolphins.

Minutes the game was delayed by heavy rain and lightning.

5,788 and 983
Baseballs and bats, respectively, built into a 42-foot Coca-Cola
bottle erected above the leftfield stands at the Braves' Turner
Field in Atlanta.


The Chicago blackhawks' Steve Smith retired last week after 13
seasons as a top-flight defenseman. A former All-Star with three
Stanley Cup rings, Smith nevertheless will always be defined by
one momentous miscue he made while playing for the Edmonton
Oilers in Game 7 of the 1986 Smythe Division finals. A
third-period pass by Smith went into his own net, giving the
Calgary Flames a 3-2 victory and interrupting an Oilers dynasty
that yielded four Cups between '84 and '88. Many other athletes
also have had disappointing moments, but only a few have made a
mistake so crucial and costly that it has obscured an otherwise
outstanding career. Here are some.

Earnest Byner

Had three 1,000-yard seasons in 13 years as NFL running back.

With 1:05 left in '88 AFC title game and his Cleveland Browns
trailing Denver Broncos 38-31, Byner, barely touched, fumbles
ball away on Denver's three.

Bill Buckner

Had 2,715 hits and .289 average in 22 big league seasons.

In 10th inning of Game Six of '86 Series, Buckner, at first for
Bosox, botches grounder by Mets' Mookie Wilson; winning run
scores; Sox lose Series in 7.

Roberto Duran

Champ in four weight classes; known for ferocity in the ring.

Quits after eighth round of 1980 bout with Sugar Ray Leonard,
turning his back on Leonard and telling ref, "No mas."

Jackie Smith

Hall of Fame tight end caught 480 passes in 16-year career.

Playing for Cowboys vs. Steelers in January '79 Super Bowl,
wide-open Smith drops pass in end zone late in third quarter;
Steelers win 35-31.

Bobby Riggs

World's No. 1 in '39, winning Wimbledon and Forest Hills.

Riggs, 55, challenges Billie Jean King to Battle of the Sexes in
'73 and guarantees victory; King trounces him, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

Stan Wright

Coached U.S. sprinters to five world records at '68 Olympics.

As assistant coach at '72 Games, Wright misreads schedule,
causing Eddie Hart and Rey Robinson to miss heats in the 100 and
be disqualified.


Winner of '67 British Open and nine PGA events in 23 years.

Shoots 65 on last day of '68 Masters but carelessly signs
scorecard that gives him a 66; rules force mistaken score to
stand; he loses by a stroke.


In quick succession Barry Sanders, Brett Favre and Steve Young
recently signed the richest contracts in NFL history. Because
players and teams work together to skirt the salary cap--and
because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed-- there's more to these
deals than a string of zeroes. Here's how those state-of-the-art
packages break down.

$34.56 million / 6 years
Signing bonus: $11.75 million
'97: $1.4
'98: $1.75
'99: $3.12
'00: $4.14
'01: $5.4
'02: $6

Guaranteed a roster spot even if hurt, Sanders will get at least
$500,000 a year.

$47.25 million / 7 years
Signing bonus: $12 million
'97: $1.6
'98: $3.1
'99: $4.3
'00: $5.35
'01: $6.3
'02: $7
'03: $7.6

Bonus to be paid over three years, leaving Packers with cash to
sign free agents.

$45 million / 6 years
No signing bonus
'97: $3
'98: $10
'99: $8.3
'00: $6.6
'01: $7.8
'02: $9.4

Young has insurance policy that, in effect, guarantees he'll be
paid through '98.


Gimme a B! Gimme an A! Gimme an R-B-I-E! Baaaarbie! She's been a
dentist, a vet and an astronaut, and now, thanks to a deal
struck by Mattel with 19 colleges, not even cheerleading is
beyond Barbie's ken. For allowing Barbie to wear their colors,
the schools get more than good cheer. Each will receive an 8%


Officials of the Newcastle United soccer team in England have
begun attaching homing devices to their players' jerseys because
so many of the popular shirts have been stolen while drying on

--Eric Fleisher, Garnett's agent


John Cangelosi
The Florida Marlins' 5'9" outfielder, explaining why he tripped
twice on the base paths during a recent game: "The bases were
too high."