Fila Breaks Off Webber Contract
Aug. 28, 1998
WASHINGTON (AP) _ After a series of legal troubles, Sacramento Kings forward Chris Webber has been dropped from a multimillion dollar endorsement contract with Fila U.S.A.
The sporting goods company terminated Webber's contract last week under a good-conduct clause, sources said Friday on condition of anonymity.
``The bottom line is that obviously he's upset,'' said Webber's agent, Fallasha Erwin. ``Fila does not have a unilateral right to just terminate. Period.''
Erwin said he didn't know what Fila's motivation was and that his client had not decided what steps he would take, if any, to counter the company's action.
Two weeks ago, Webber was stopped during a Fila promotional trip in San Juan's international airport with a carry-on bag containing 11 grams of marijuana, U.S. Customs Service reported.
Customs said Webber admitted owning the bag and paid an administrative penalty of $500.
Webber, who was traded to Sacramento by the Washington Wizards, has maintained the bag belonged to a female companion and that customs officials pinned ownership on him.
Fila would not comment on the end of Webber's contract, spokeswoman Meredith Geisler said.
``In no way does Fila condone the use of illicit drugs,'' Fila U.S.A. president Jon Epstein said last week. ``We expect our athletes to conduct themselves in an exemplary manner on and off the court, and we are taking this issue very seriously.''
Webber will not receive money he would have earned from the remainder of the three-year contract that was signed in March 1997, sources said. They would not reveal the total amount of the contract.
The White House was quick to applaud Fila's action.
``Fila U.S.A. is doing what is right for the world of sports and for our nation's children,'' said Barry McCaffrey, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Because of the small ``personal-use'' amount of marijuana involved, customs said Webber was not cited for smuggling and would not be prosecuted for possession.
Webber recently had a number of legal tangles. He is awaiting trial for an arrest in January that stemmed from a traffic stop on his way to practice with the Wizards in Maryland. He faces charges of marijuana possession, second-degree assault and resisting arrest.
In May, a grand jury declined to prosecute Webber in a complaint filed by a woman who said she was sexually assaulted at a party in Maryland in April. Webber's lawyer said he left the party before the attack allegedly happened.
The Kings could not comment on the situation because of the restrictions of the lockout by NBA owners.