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With players, owners by side, Musselman apologizes

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A teary-eyed Sacramento Kings coach
Eric Musselman apologized Sunday for his arrest a day earlier on a
drunken driving charge. His players and bosses were by his side in
support.

"We don't intend to
desert him in his hour of need. Certainly it was a self-inflicted
wound, but it need not be or should it be a mortal wound. Eric's a
terrific young coach. To this point he's done an excellent job of
taking control of this team."
-- Kings president Geoff Petrie

"First let me say that I'm sorry," Musselman said at Arco
Arena. "I'm embarrassed and ashamed. I'm well aware of the
seriousness of the situation. It's not representative of how I live
my life and I will never take it lightly. It was a huge mistake on
my behalf."

Musselman met with his players, who surrounded him as he
addressed the media before the team held a shootaround and then
left for an exhibition game against the New Orleans Hornets in
Reno, Nev.

"The situation with Coach, it was the wrong thing. We don't
condone it but we're going to back our coach up," said point guard
Mike Bibby, who acknowledged being shocked. "Wrong or right, we're
going to be with him. ... He's a grown man. He knows it wasn't
right what he did."

Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof said no disciplinary action
would be taken against the team's first-year coach, hired June 3 to
replace fired coach Rick Adelman. That means Musselman will not
face a fine or suspension from his bosses.

"It's not in us to do those types of things," Joe Maloof said.
"We don't like fining anybody. We don't attack anybody. It's not
in our nature. He said he was sorry. We told him we were
disappointed."

Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations,
said he left a message Saturday for an attorney with the NBA after
Musselman called him about the arrest. The coach could face a
league suspension if convicted.

"I think he understands completely the gravity of the situation
in which he finds himself and the potential ramifications of
that," Petrie said. "At the same time though, we don't intend to
desert him in his hour of need. Certainly it was a self-inflicted
wound, but it need not be or should it be a mortal wound. Eric's a
terrific young coach. To this point he's done an excellent job of
taking control of this team."

Musselman was pulled over at 2:15 a.m. Saturday about 1½ miles
from the State Capitol after his car was seen making a right-hand
turn from the left-hand lane and cutting off another vehicle, the
sheriff's department said.

Darrin May, the team's executive director of media relations,
and two women were in Musselman's Mercedes. They were released.

The 41-year-old coach failed three sobriety tests and had a
blood-alcohol level of 0.11, according to the arrest report. The
legal limit is 0.08.

Musselman said his apology went out to the city of Sacramento
and the fans, the Maloofs, Petrie, and Musselman's family -- most
notably his sons, Michael and Matthew.

"The one thing that I am looking forward to is hitting the
court again with the team," Musselman said.

Petrie and the Maloofs -- both showing their emotion, too -- hope
this is an "isolated incident" that can serve as a reminder about
the dangers of drinking and driving. The Maloofs own the Las Vegas
hotel and casino, Palms.

"It's an unfortunate situation. It's uncalled for," Gavin
Maloof said. "He's a good man who did a bad thing. Just like
anyone else, you have to learn from your mistakes. You can go the
right way or the wrong way."

The timing of Musselman's arrest is particularly bad for the
Kings. On Nov. 7, voters will be asked to approve two ballot
measures increasing local sales tax as part of the club's quest to
build a new arena in downtown Sacramento. Both measures are
considered longshots to pass.

"It's definitely not a positive," Gavin Maloof said.

This is the second head coaching job for Musselman, who was
fired by the Golden State Warriors after the 2003-04 season despite
leading the team to its most successful two-year stretch during a
stretch of 12 straight losing seasons.

Musselman spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Memphis
under Mike Fratello.

Some of the Sacramento players told team officials Sunday they
didn't want to hold shootaround without Musselman -- so they
followed their coach across the parking lot from the practice
facility to the arena.

"That's when you're proud to own a team," Joe Maloof said.
"That's one of the proudest moments I've had."