Monday, October 13, 2003
Updated: December 6, 1:40 PM ET
The 'Choke' Artist
By Mike Puma
Special to ESPN.com
Dec. 1, 1997 - Three days after being fined for missing a team flight and arriving late to Salt Lake City the night before a game, Latrell Sprewell let Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo know that it was best to leave him alone.
"I don't want to hear it today," Sprewell said after Carlesimo asked him to throw crisper passes during a practice.
Tensions had been boiling between the two. Three weeks earlier, Carlesimo yanked Sprewell from a game against the Los Angeles Lakers, calling him a joke, because Sprewell was laughing in the huddle during a timeout. The Lakers held a big lead at the time.
Today, Carlesimo was warned by Sprewell not to approach him. When the coach ignored the caveat, Sprewell grabbed Carlesimo by the throat for 10-15 seconds before the other players stepped in. About 20 minutes later, Sprewell returned to throw punches at the coach. He landed a glancing blow.
"What I did was wrong, but when you sit back and watch it take off, you realize you have no control over it," Sprewell said. "Once the media got hold of it, it wasn't coming back. It was me against the world at that point."
Odds 'n' Ends
Sprewell fathered his first child at 17 with a girlfriend. He has three sons and two daughters from three different relationships.
Sprewell chose Alabama over Kansas after finishing his junior college career.
His teammates at Alabama included future NBA players Robert Horry and James Robinson.His teammates at Alabama included future NBA players Robert Horry and James Robinson.
As a senior, he led the Southeastern Conference in minutes played, averaging 36.2 minutes.
In 1992-93, he became the first Warriors rookie to record at least 1,000 points, 250 rebounds, 250 assists, 100 steals and 50 blocks in a season.
In 1993-94, Sprewell led the league in minutes played with 3,533, an average of 43.1.
In 1996-97, Sprewell scored in double figures in 78 of his 80 games.
Sprewell didn't talk with the media at the start of the 1997-98 season, a move he later conceded played a part in his attack on Carlesimo.
Sprewell started all but 10 of the games in which he appeared over his first six seasons before coming off the bench in 33 of 37 games for the Knicks in 1998-99.
He was fined $10,000 by the league in 1998 for hurling obscenities at Warriors' fans.
Sprewell has donated $100,000 to the Knicks' "Cheering For Children" foundation.
His career high was 49 points, set against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 11, 2001.
On Patrick Ewing Night on Feb. 28, 2003, when the Knicks retired Ewing's number, Sprewell had his second career triple double (28 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists) in the Knicks' double-overtime win over Orlando. Sprewell's first triple double came when he was with the Warriors on March 28, 1997.
On July 23, 2003, Sprewell was traded from the Knicks to Minnesota in a four-team deal in which the Timberwolves sent the rights to Terrell Brandon to Atlanta and Marc Jackson to Philadelphia. Glenn Robinson went from Atlanta to Philadelphia and Keith Van Horn moved from Philadelphia to New York.
On Halloween 2004, Sprewell, who was in the final season of a $62-million, five-year deal he signed with the Knicks, said he was insulted by Minnesota'
s offer of a contract extension that was reportedly worth between $27 million and $30 million for three seasons. "I've got my family to feed," he said.
In December 2004, Sprewell was suspended for one game by the NBA for responding to a female heckler with a sexually graphic vulgarity.
In 62 career postseason games, Sprewell averaged 19.7 points.
In four All-Star Games, he averaged 11 points.