By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
You gotta think the San Antonio Spurs are riding high with an NBA championship in sight. But team majority owner Peter Holt has a far more valuable goal in mind. For the umpteenth time in the three years he's owned the Spurs, Holt is arguing that he can't remain "competitive" without a replacement for the six-year-old Alamodome. This time, he's counting on the team's triumphant season to deliver a new venue.
"After we win the Finals, we'll see if we can trade in the momentum into a referendum on a midsize arena," Holt said last week. "We've seen it help in places like Denver and San Diego." Sports economist Andrew Zimbalist agrees, saying that the Spurs' strong play "will certainly help, if past experience is any guide, to bring them over the top in a referendum."
To that end, the Spurs are counting on their daunting twin towers to do more than just dominate in the paint. Both have shilled for new digs especially David Robinson. The Admiral's been toeing the company line for years, most recently suggesting that resistance to a taxpayer-funded arena implies an eagerness to see the team leave the city. "If you've got a world champion right here in town," Robinson has said, "I think you'd have to think twice about wanting to get rid of the team."
Local community activists scoff at the implication. "We don't have a problem with a new arena," says Beatrice Cortez, a leader of Communities Organized for Public Service. "We just don't feel like they need to build it with our money." In a city with double-digit poverty rates and an ongoing battle over a living wage, public dollars could be better spent, says Cortez. "The other night Bob Costas said San Antonio is a blue- collar town," she laughs. "Actually, we're more of a no-collar town."
As Pete Sampras heads into Wimbledon with a soft draw and a shot make that anothershot at tying Roy Emerson's career record for Grand Slam singles titles, Jockbeat would like to be the first to attach an asterisk to this achievement. No one's seriously arguing that Emerson, who has a dozen slams to his credit, is a better player than Sampras, but a case has to be made for Rod Laver, who stands tied with Sampras at 11.
Before 1968, tennis was a house divided, with pros barred from playing in the major championships. Grand Slams, therefore, were the equivalent of AAA baseball a top amateur like Laver would win a couple and then head off to join the barnstorming professional circuit.
So, what if The Rocket had been allowed to play the majors during his prime? Keeping in mind that between 1962 and 1969 he won nine of the 11 slams he competed in, if Laver had been able to maintain that pace during the 21 majors he missed, he would own the record with a staggering total of 28.
Want to see a real accomplishment? Check out Steffi Graf and her 22 slams. Her French Open win revitalized her chase of Margaret Court's record of 24 women's Grand Slam singles titles. Granted, Graf was helped by Guenther Parche's attack on Monica Seles, but since women's tennis didn't have a pro circuit back in the day, she and Court, at least, are competing on a level playing field.
The MetroStars' season of comedy took a downright tragic turn last weekend as the club notched the worst loss in its brief history: a 6-0 flogging at the hands of a weak Kansas City Wizards squad. There's still much ado about nothing in the way of international player allocations for the Metros, a team in such a drought that it couldn't find the back of a wet net with a divining rod.
The Metros were all set recently to add Lothar Matthaeus when the legendary German midfielder pulled the Astroturf from under the team and decided not to come. And the process of bringing in any other foreign saviors has proved as loony as King Lear and as long as Hamlet. The team needs them after giving up six goals to Kansas Shitty it sure doesn't take F. Lee Bailey to make an argument for bringing in a defender. Or a midfielder. But a coach?
According to a league source, Italy's midfield maestro Roberto Donadoni may make his return to the Metros as a coach although when is unclear. Team GM Charlie Stillitano denied any knowledge of such a move, but said that in the past, the organization had "tried to get [Donadoni] to stay . . . in some sort of coaching capacity." Donadoni would be replacing Bora Milutinovic, but it wouldn't be a Brutus maneuver; Bora reportedly has his eye on a club gig in Mexico. But maybe Roberto's interested in a front office position. If the Metro misery continues, there may be an opening.
JockclipsQuote of the week: Knick guard Chris Childs, in a relaxed moment, quipping on what Chris Dudley brings to the team "I dunno, a little color?" . . . Jockbeat's crack staff, armed with computers and a magnifying glass, has learned that Toronto's Tony Fernandez is batting .411 nearly halfway through the season. No hype has been detected as of yet. What gives?