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Fortson suspended one game for refusing to play

SEATTLE -- The Seattle SuperSonics suspended Danny Fortson
for their game against Washington on Sunday night, two days after
he refused to enter a game against New York.

Although the suspension was for one game, Fortson will not
accompany the Sonics on their two-game road trip to Memphis and San
Antonio because he's recovering from a sprained left
ankle.

General manager Rick Sund said Fortson told coach Nate McMillan
he couldn't play in the second half of the Knicks' game, which the
Sonics won 109-101 in overtime, because he wasn't ready.

"He asked him to go into the game in the second half, and he felt he wasn't ready," Sund told the Seattle Times. "You have to be ready, you have to go in the game when the coach asks you to."

Sund said he met with Fortson on Saturday and informed him of the
suspension.

"I told him we couldn't have that," Sund said of Fortson's
refusal to go into a game when McMillan wanted him. "The
suspension is a consequence of Danny not going into the game."

Fortson, acquired in a trade with Dallas during the offseason
for center Calvin Booth, is averaging 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and
17.3 minutes in 54 games for the Northwest Division-leading Sonics
this season.

Earlier in the season, Fortson was a major factor coming off the
bench in the Sonics' resurgence from a team that went 37-45 last
season and missed making the playoffs. The fans at the Key Arena
made him one of their favorites earlier in the season.

But he's played less of a role since the All-Star break as
McMillan has used second-year power forward Nick Collison more off
the bench.

At a scrimmage March 10, McMillan kicked Fortson out of practice
for yelling at a practice official and then yelling at the coach.

Top scorer Ray Allen said he telephoned Fortson when he found
out about the suspension.

"I just told Danny what he means to this team," Allen said
before Sunday night's game. "Even though he may not be the leading
scorer for us, I just wanted to tell him how important he was for
this stretch run for us and the playoffs."

McMillan didn't want to talk about the Fortson suspension,
referring all questions to Sund.

But McMillan did say that it was important for the Sonics to
have good chemistry as they wrap up the regular season.

"We want to make sure everybody is on the same page," he said.
"That's our focus."

In his eighth NBA season, Fortson is with his fifth team. In
addition to Seattle and Dallas, he's been with Denver, Boston and
Golden State.

Fortson was not at Sunday night's game.