NEW YORK — What was supposed to be a low-key affair Tuesday to honor John McEnroe transpired into an inner Beltway-worthy political discussion in Cartier’s Fifth Avenue flagship, of all places.

In atypical form, the 17-time Grand Slam winner tried repeatedly to diffuse questions about the fallout pro-athletes and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation — the nonprofit group feting him — are facing because of the Bush administration’s aggressive stance against Iraq. Fellow academy members Boris Becker and Edwin Moses tried to help bail him out, but to no avail. Toward the end of the unintended, extended press conference, Becker said, "This is a celebration of our new member, it’s not about politics."

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