Thursday, September 4, 2008
Sources: Stern angered by rookies' hotel room incident
By Chris Broussard
ESPN The Magazine
Details of the scandal involving Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur are beginning to emerge as the NBA and the players' association investigate the events that led to their expulsion from the league's rookie transition program Wednesday.
Several sources said Thursday that NBA commissioner David Stern was so angered by the two former Kansas players' alleged involvement with marijuana and women at the program that he made the call to remove them from their rooms at the Doral Arrowwood resort in Rye Brook, N.Y.
Chalmers and Arthur, who just months ago helped lead the Jayhawks to the 2008 NCAA championship, were dismissed from the four-day program after women -- a violation of the program's no-visitors rule -- and signs of marijuana usage were found in their hotel room.
According to sources, Chalmers and Arthur were caught in Arthur's room at the Doral Arrowwood resort in Rye Brook when a smoke alarm went off Wednesday at about 2 a.m. Hotel management went to the room, but the players refused to allow them in.
Stern's anger was apparently evident when he began his speech; he mentioned Chalmers and Arthur by name and told the 67 rookies in attendance that the two would be thrown out of the program and forced to attend the 2009 session.
Management then left to get security, which used its own key to enter the room minutes later. Once inside, security found Chalmers, Arthur and at least two women. There was a strong stench of marijuana in the room, and one person was in the bathroom with the door locked, repeatedly flushing the toilet, sources said.
The police were called to the room, which they searched, but neither marijuana nor drug paraphernalia was found. Representatives from the players' association were also on the scene by that time.
Chalmers and Arthur were allowed to spend the night at the resort and were seemingly planning to attend a kickoff address by Stern later Wednesday morning. But after being told of the violations shortly before beginning his speech, Stern immediately had the players removed from their rooms.
Several sources described Stern as being furious.
The commissioner's anger was apparently evident when he began his speech; he mentioned Chalmers and Arthur by name and told the 67 rookies in attendance that the two would be thrown out of the program and forced to attend the 2009 session.
Sources said Chalmers and Arthur have already been fined $20,000 apiece and could start the regular season on the NBA's suspended list. But league spokesman Brian McIntyre would not confirm that.
"We're still looking into it," McIntyre said Wednesday. "Once we have all the details, appropriate sanctions will be taken."
Under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement, Chalmers and Arthur could soon be subjected to a drug test. If they fail, they would be required to enter the league's marijuana program, but they would not be suspended from playing in any games. Stern, however, could push to suspend the players for violating the rules of the rookie program.
Chalmers, who sank a game-tying, buzzer-beating 3-pointer that forced overtime in Kansas' 75-68 championship victory over Memphis, was drafted 34th by Minnesota. He was quickly traded to Miami, where he is expected to vie for the starting role at point guard after playing well during summer league. Chalmers played three seasons for the Jayhawks.
Arthur, also an early-entry candidate who played two years at Kansas, was a sympathetic figure on draft night. Roundly believed to have lottery-type talent, Arthur fell to the 27th spot after erroneous rumors of a health problem circulated throughout the league.
Then, after being selected by New Orleans, the 6-foot-9 forward was traded to Portland, then Houston, before finally settling in Memphis.
Kansas coach Bill Self stood by his former players Wednesday.
"We really don't know all the facts yet, and I certainly would never comment publicly on any personal matter concerning any player I have ever coached," Self said. "Beyond that, I can say that both Mario and Darrell were great to coach. They played a huge role in our success the past few years, in large part due to their unselfishness and the sacrifices they made for our program."
Chris Broussard is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.