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Friday, July 31, 2009
Apache says dispute with Baker resolved; source begs to differ
By ED ODEVEN
Weeks after undergoing surgery at a Tokyo hospital to repair a torn Achilles tendon he sustained in the bj-league championship game, Dameion Baker returned to his home in North Carolina in late June.
Before he left Japan, the veteran forward, who has played for the Tokyo Apache in each of the team's four seasons, was involved in complicated, frustrating negotiations with team officials for several weeks to hammer out an agreement to pay for his medical bills, including physical rehabilitation.
Apache team official Hiroshi Ito said an agreement has been reached between the two sides.
The fact that Baker, who viewed the team's negotiating style as unreasonable, degrading and insensitive to his sense of urgency to begin rehab, didn't have medical insurance this past season complicated matters.
"We have reached an agreement with Baker, so both of us are happy about it, we believe," Ito wrote in an e-mail to The Japan Times.
Ito wouldn't reveal any specifics details of the agreement. However, a source has told The Japan Times that Baker did not receive the money for his rehabilitation, which had been the major point of contention between he and the club.
"We are not going to give a comment to any media about an agreement/contract of a specific player, even including Baker because it is not only a matter of the team but of the player and also sometimes it is a touchy matter, as you know," Ito added.
Baker has said he wants to return to Japan for the 2009-10 season. It remains to be seen if the Apache will re-sign him or if another bj-league team will offer him a contract.
Several attempts to reach Baker for comment have been unsuccessful.
In other bj-league news, the defending champion Ryukyu Golden Kings have announced that center George Leach will play for the team next season. Leach previously played for the Takamatsu Five Arrows.