Saturday, October 05, 2002

Investors seek answers in Celtics sale

Sixers star Iverson injures his finger

Enquirer staff and news services

        In the pending $360 million sale of the Boston Celtics, a huge mystery remains: How much will the individual investors - loyal fans who have held the shares for years - reap in the record deal?

        The answer has been startlingly elusive. The current owner, Paul Gaston, won't say, and the new owners have said they don't know how much the outside investors will get. Financial gurus who worked on the deal are perplexed about the particulars. And Celtics financial chief Richard Pond, perhaps the only person who understands the math, has been out of the country and not returning phone calls all week. Trading of the Celtics' public units has been halted on the New York Stock Exchange since last week, when the deal was announced, and the exchange won't explain why.

        “There hasn't been any communication at all,” said John Daley, a Hamden, Conn., resident, who bought 10 units each for his three kids in 1987, when the team first sold shares to the public. He said the public investors, who own 48.3 percent of the team, according to the sale announcement, should get 48 percent of the purchase price. Any other approach, he said, “would be grossly unfair.”

        Thursday, one Celtic investor, Breakwater Partners LP, filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court, charging that team directors have refused “to disclose even the most basic details” of the transaction.

        Like Daley, most of the Celtics' investors own just a handful of shares. Many bought them for sentimental reasons, and for a chance to own a slice of their favorite team.

        They've reaped dividend payments over the years, plus interest checks on debt securities they received in a complex refinancing of the team in 1998.

        The jury deliberating the case against three men accused of stabbing Celtics star Paul Pierce was sent home for the weekend after a third day of deliberations ended without an announced verdict. Jurors were set to return Monday.

        76ERS: Guard Allen Iverson hurt his finger during practice and was taken to the hospital for tests to determine the severity of the injury. Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said Iverson jammed the middle finger on his right hand.

        CAVALIERS: Center Chris Mihm sustained a strained left hamstring during practice, an injury that's not as serious as initially feared.

        Mihm got hurt during a full-court drill Wednesday night and had to be helped to the Cavaliers' locker room at Gund Arena.

        An MRI taken at the Cleveland Clinic revealed only the strain. Mihm will be re-evaluated on a daily basis.

        JAZZ: Joe Vogel, a 6-foot-11 center who played at Colorado State, was released from Utah's training camp because the Lebanese professional team he plays for won't let him out of his contract.

        KNICKS: Latrell Sprewell might have broken his hand by throwing an errant punch at the boyfriend of a woman who vomited on his new yacht, the New York Post reported.

        WARRIORS: Former Cincinnati Bearcats All-America guard Steve Logan hasn't signed a contract and isn't participating in Golden State's training camp. Negotiations are ongoing.


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