Belo's sure got balls

The News now co-owns the Mavericks, but at what price?

On Friday, it was announced that The Dallas Morning News' publisher, Belo Corp., purchased a minority stake in the Dallas Mavericks: 12.38 percent of the team for $24 million. The deal also gives the newspaper 6.19 percent non-voting interest in The Arena Group, Tom Hicks and Ross Perot Jr.'s company charged with building and operating the American Airlines Center, which will be the home of the Mavericks and Dallas Stars. The deal has not yet been approved by the National Basketball Association's head office, but the league is expected to give its OK before the end of August.

While many of the deal's details were not reported in the Morning News on Saturday, the Dallas Observer has obtained a copy of the contract between the parties -- in this case, Hillwood Development Corp. and Mavericks majority owner Ross Perot Jr., Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, and Belo chairman, president, and chief executive officer Robert "Bob" Decherd. Excerpts from the contract can be found below.


The Dallas Mavericks (hereinafter "The Dallas Mavericks," "Mavs," or "The Most Misunderstood Basketball Team of All Time"), Hillwood Development Corp. (hereinafter "Hillwood"), Ron Kirk (hereinafter "The Mayor"), Ross Perot Jr. (hereinafter "Junior"), Tom Hicks (hereinafter "Mr. Hicks"), and Belo Corp. (hereinafter "Belo") agree as follows:

1. Whereas not a single disparaging word will appear about the Mavericks in the pages of The Dallas Morning News, Belo agrees to the following conditions:

(a) Beginning immediately, the Morning News will reassign Dallas Mavericks beat writer Marc Stein to the Dallas Mavericks media relations department, where he will gather statistics, conduct post-game interviews, hand out quotes to other local media members, and keep beer cold for Don Nelson. Should Stein refuse the assignment, he will be fired or made pop-music critic.

(b) All Dallas Mavericks stories will now be written by the Mavericks' director of communications. Stories will not contain final scores, unless the Mavericks win. If Mavericks should win a game, then the article will appear as the lead story on the front page of The Dallas Morning News with a banner headline, in type no smaller than 72 points.

(c) In the unlikely event the Mavericks enter the playoffs, The Dallas Morning News shall publish not fewer than three (3) full-color special sections devoted to the team. This agreement is notwithstanding any other newsworthy events that might occur at this time (e.g., hell freezing over).

(d) No other members of the local print media will be allowed in the Dallas Mavericks' locker room following games. The director of communications will act as a pool reporter, feeding Stein's post-game quotes and other feel-good news to local writers.

(e) During Dallas Mavericks home games, Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Randy Galloway will no longer be allowed within 25 feet of Reunion Arena or, upon its completion, the American Airlines Center. During Dallas Stars games, Galloway will not be allowed within 10 feet of the arena.

(f) Losses will now be referred to as "near-wins."

(g) There will be no more references to the following seasons: 1990-1991, 1991-1992, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1994-1995, 1995-1996, 1996-1997, 1997-1998, 1998-1999.

(h) Dallas Morning News columnists Tim Cowlishaw, Frank Luksa, and Kevin Blackistone must include one or more of the following phrases when writing about Mavericks head coach-general manager Don Nelson: "a genius," "a guru," "a magician," "a risk-taking wizard," "omnipotent," "brilliant," "mastermind," or "not as crazy as he seems." Every column about Nelson will describe him as "one of the greatest coaches ever, if not the greatest coach of all time."

(i) The following players will hereinafter be referred to as "potential All-Stars" whenever their names appear in print: Shawn Bradley, Leon Smith, Chris Anstey, Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash, Erick Strickland, and Hubert Davis (e.g., "Potential All-Star Shawn Bradley blocked one shot and scored six points during 34 brilliant minutes of play").

(j) Every foreign-born draft pick will be referred to as a "transplanted Texan."

(k) National Basketball Association beat writer Bart Hubbuch will refer to other NBA teams as being "inferior in every way to the Dallas Mavericks."

2. Whereas the above restrictions also apply to other subsidiaries of Belo, including but not limited to WFAA-Channel 8, TXCN, and Belo's other newspapers and television stations, the Dallas Mavericks and Belo also agree to the following stipulations:

(a) Effective immediately, Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Donn Nelson will replace Dale Hansen as lead sports anchor on WFAA. Hansen will be kept on only to interview the following local sports figures: Troy Aikman, Byron Nelson, and high school athletes with good grade-point averages.

(b) Scott Sams will be the only television reporter allowed in the Dallas Mavericks' locker room following games. He will be limited to one or more of the following questions: "What's it like to play for the greatest coach of all time?" "What's it like to be so tall?" "How do you say 'double dribble' in Chinese?" and "How important of a near-win was this?"

(c) Don Nelson will be given an hourlong show on WFAA-Channel 8 every Thursday between 8 and 9 p.m. to talk about "the promising future." Proposed titles: The Greatest Coach of All Time, Don Nelson; Don Nelson Knows More About Basketball Than You; or Father Knows Best. His son Donn Nelson will take over the show in the fall of 2000, when Don Nelson moves to his own 24-hour show, which will replace TXCN.

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