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Wednesday, May 15
 
Webber puts his best foot forward for shoe company

By Darren Rovell
ESPN.com

The Sacramento Kings' march to the NBA Finals could give one up-and-coming shoemaker the shot it needs to make it big.

Chris Webber
Chris Webber and his chrome shoes were the talk of the All-Star Game, but they didn't impress MJ.
Dada footwear, which broke onto the sports scene when Kings forward Chris Webber wore its chrome-colored shoes at the NBA All-Star Game in February, is preparing to launch its CDUBBZ line. The shoes, named after Webber who has been wearing black chrome models since he was signed as president of the company's basketball division 3½ months ago, will hit stores on June 5.

That's just in time for the NBA Finals, provided the Kings can get past the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA's Western Conference Finals.

On June 1, Dada will release a limited edition of 1,000 pairs of the chrome shoes that Webber wore at the All-Star game. "We had so many calls about the shoes after that game that we had to do something," said Lavetta Willis, CEO of Dada Footwear.

The shoes, which will sell for $125, are numbered and come in an embroidered, velvet bag. Each box will contain a certificate redeemable for an autographed photo of Webber. Tags on the shoes will warn that the shoes are collectibles and not recommended for daily use. Since the shoes are made with real metal fragments, they have a tendency to crease with wear.

"We actually designed Chris' all chrome shoe by mistake," said Lantz Simpson, creative director for the company. "In Taiwan, they couldn't make one strip to go on the shoe, so I just said, 'make it all chrome.' "

The performance sneaker, the CDUBBZ, will have one strip of chrome on the back quarter of the shoe. It will retail for $74.99.

Webber severed his deal with Nike because he thought the $140 retail price for his "CWebb" shoes was too high for his young fans. Webber also has endorsed Fila, which terminated its deal after Webber violated a conduct clause when he was fined in August 1998 for concealing marijuana in his carry-on baggage at an airport in Puerto Rico.

Webber's Dada apparel line will debut with another Webber shoe, the C4, on Nov. 1.

NBA stings Hornets for relocation
Sources say the Hornets will pay between $20 million and $30 million to move the team from Charlotte to New Orleans, a hefty relocation fee that didn't sit well with every NBA team owner.

Michael Heisley
Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley, right, jokes with businessman Sam LeBlanc, center, and New Orleans mayor Marc Morial in March 2001.
Michael Heisley, who was interested in relocating his Grizzlies from Vancouver to New Orleans a year ago before eventually settling on Memphis, was the only owner to vote against the proposal, because he thought the fee was excessive. "We protested last year when we were assessed the fee. So to be consistent, we were against this fee as well," Heisley told ESPN.com. "NBA bylaws allow the league to assess relocation fees, but it just doesn't make much sense to impose those fees on teams going into the league's smallest markets."

The Grizzlies were assessed a relocation fee of about $30 million last year.

Despite the fee, Hornets co-owner Ray Wooldridge said he believes the team can turn a profit in its first season in the Big Easy. "If you spread the relocation fee over our 10-year lease period, we can make a profit this upcoming year," Wooldridge told ESPN.com.

Wooldridge said the Hornets lost about $15 million each of the past two seasons in Charlotte.

Penthouse Magazine
Penthouse Magazine is in some serious hot water over its June 2002 issue.
The case of mistaken nudity
Proceedings continued in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday between Penthouse and Judith Soltesz-Benetton, whose topless photos appeared in the magazine's most recent issue and were advertised as Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova. Soltesz-Benetton, who is married to the son of billionaire fashion designer Luciano Benetton, and Kournikova's representatives filed separate lawsuits against the magazine last week, each seeking more than $10 million in damages.

Kournikova is the most-searched athlete on the Internet, but the suit is also increasing the visibility of Soltesz-Benetton, a U.S. citizen who now lives in Italy. Requests for Soltesz-Benetton on search engine Google.com this past week increased by 118 percent, site spokesperson Eileen Rodriguez said.

Whatever isn't nailed down
The University of Maryland bought the Georgia Dome court on which the Terps won the NCAA men's basketball title for about $80,000. Now the university has the chance to buy the scoreboard used during that game, too. The scoreboard, which was used only during the SEC men's basketball tournament and the Final Four, is up for bid through May 20. Bid4Assets, the online auction site that is handling the bidding, set the minimum opening bid at $40,000.

Honoring thy father
Ryan Sims, who was drafted sixth overall in the NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, purchased the naming rights to his high school's baseball field for $100,000 on Tuesday. "After I was drafted I was thinking about things I could do to give back to the area," Sims said. The field at Paul M. Dorman High School in Spartanburg, S.C., will be named Ronnie Sims Baseball Field, after Sims' father who pitched on the school's state championship team in 1971. Ronnie Sims played professionally with the Boston Red Sox organization and got as far as Triple-A before retiring. The money will be used to give students athletic scholarships, Ryan Sims said.

Kim Clijsters
Kim Clijsters
Fila's tennis trio
Fila now has three of the world's top 10 the ranked women tennis players as endorsers. Kim Clijsters, who ranks third on the WTA Sanex Tour, will join current No. 2 Jennifer Capriati and No. 9 Jelena Dokic in Fila's growing stable of tennis stars. Clijsters will wear Fila women's performance tennis collection apparel and Reformation shoes.

Stock watch
Boston Celtics stock (NYSE: BOS) climbed to $13.96 a share on Wednesday, it's 52-week high. The stock is $1.16 more than it was when the playoffs started on April 21 and $4.21 more than it was at the start of the season on Oct. 30. The Celtics advanced to the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals with a victory Tuesday over the Detroit Pistons.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at darren.rovell@espn.com.










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