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WILL LEGAL ACTION BEGIN AFTER WARRIORS CUT TIES TO SPREWELL?
Published December 4, 1997
The Warriors "terminated" the contract of Latrell Sprewell last night, "in essence, firing him" two days after he attacked Coach P.J. Carlesimo in practice, according to David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE. GM Garry St. Jean made the announcement following the team's game last night at the Oakland Arena: "It was not an economical decision. It was about morals and ethics and the right thing to do. And the organization stands very strong with its moral beliefs." Sprewell will lose the remainder of his salary for this year, which is $7.7M, and the $17.3M he was due for the following two seasons. He was placed on waivers and can sign with any team if he is not claimed within 48 hours. The team "invoked clauses concerning good conduct and citizenship included in the standard player contract" and the CBA. The NBA had no comment last night, but the "possibility remains that Sprewell could be banned by the league from playing for part of this season or longer." NBPA Exec Dir Billy Hunter said the union would appeal the termination. Steele: "It was the first time an NBA player has had his contract terminated for insubordination" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). The AP reports that "some NBA players have a personal conduct guarantee in their contracts that prohibits teams from terminating them based upon their behavior. Sprewell, however, had no such protection" (AP/ESPN SportsZone, 12/4). In N.Y., Mike Wise writes that the action "sets the table for a bitter legal battle" between the team and the NBPA (Mike Wise, N.Y. TIMES, 12/4). SPRE-SPEECH: In his first public comments yesterday, Sprewell "refused to apologize" to Carlesimo, and added that, "All the frustrations had built up to the point where I couldn't take it anymore." More Sprewell: "I totally don't condone this behavior, but I just got to the point where I couldn't take it anymore" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 12/4). FROM THE WARRIORS: More from St. Jean: "There is no issue to compromise. Outrageous misconduct by players in professional sports has been tolerated for too long. We are drawing the line. Some things are more important than winning or losing games" (Ric Bucher, WASHINGTON POST, 12/4). In San Jose, Ann Killion writes that the Warriors' move "makes sense to average folks, and it will probably help" the team's PR profile, but "that doesn't mean this is the end of the Warriors' problems. First, the Warriors don't even know if their action will stand up legally." St. Jean: "We have confidence in the NBA" (MERCURY NEWS, 12/4). NATIONAL REAX: In Chicago, Lacy Banks writes under the header, "Sprewell Incident Wounds League" (SUN-TIMES, 12/4). In Akron, Terry Pluto writes under the header, "These NBA Guys Need A Swift Kick." Pluto, on Sprewell and Scottie Pippen: "I'm just sick of some of these guys. ... Maybe if you play in the NBA, you know that the rules of common decency and respect for your employer and co-workers don't apply" (BEACON JOURNAL, 12/4). USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti, under the header, "NBA Could Soon Choke On Its Troubles," writes "here in a sport with one more bruise on an image that has been defaced enough. ... Something ails the NBA and its world of quick money and quick tempers. Sprewell is not the sickness, only the latest symptom" (USA TODAY, 12/4). In Seattle, Steve Kelly wrote under the header, "Hey, Kids -- NBA Isn't So Fan-Tastic Anymore." Kelly: "Don't believe the slick commercials. ... [T]his NBA season is off to a foundering start. ... The NBA has problems" (SEATTLE TIMES, 12/3). On ABC's "Good Morning America," the Warriors' move was discussed by host Lisa McRee and Mike Lupica. After watching a video clip of the Warriors' St. Jean announcing Sprewell's termination, McRee noted, "Boy, even crew members are saying 'Yes!' when they hear that" ("GMA," ABC, 12/4). CONVERSE SUPPORT: Converse said it "doesn't plan to fire" Sprewell as a spokesperson, according to BLOOMBERG's Scott Newman. Converse signed Sprewell in '94 to a deal that the company says contains "a morals clause that would allow it to end the agreement." Converse VP/Marketing & Communications Jennifer Murray: "Latrell's behavior is inexcusable, unsportsmanlike, and something that we in no way condone. But he remains one of our endorsers and is still under contract with us" (CONTA COSTA TIMES, 12/3).