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SBD/29/Leagues Governing Bodies
SPREWELL HEARING, DAY TWO: PLAYERS CALL IT "INTENSE"
Published January 29, 1998
During the second day of Latrell Sprewell's arbitration hearing in Portland, OR, Sprewell and Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo "did acknowledge each other casually" and shook hands in the first meeting since their December 1 dispute, according to Craig Sager on the "NBA on TBS." Sager noted that Carlesimo "is no longer the center of the focus of the Sprewell camp" as the "focus is strictly on whether there was a premeditated second attack" on the day in question. Sager: "It is no longer Sprewell against Carlesimo, it is Sprewell against the Warriors for terminating the contract and Sprewell against the league for handing down the suspension." Sager added that no Trail Blazers who played under Carlesimo will be asked to testify (TBS, 1/28). ONE-ON-ONE: Three Warriors players -- Felton Spencer, Joe Smith and Bimbo Coles -- testified yesterday before arbitrator John Feerick. Assistant coaches Paul Westhead and Rod Higgins then followed the players, with Higgins "ending the 12-hour session," according to David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Carlesimo was scheduled to appear after Higgins, but "he stayed from early morning until the very end, observing the testimony of his players and coaches." Steele reports that Coles' appearance before Feerick was the "longest yet, lasting some four hours." While his agent, Sean Holley, was "concerned about repercussions from the team or the league," Coles agreed to appear. Holley: "I don't think a lot of the guys really realized what was going on. I think they thought they'd just have to give some kind of statement. But this is like a trial." After his testimony, Spencer said, "It was kind of odd because they were both there. ... It was rather intense" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 1/29). In N.Y., Mike Wise notes that one league official, who spoke to a player that testified, said that what the "players believed what would be an informal interview turned into an extremely awkward situation." NBA lawyers "read interviews the players" gave to the league's security office the day after the incident, and asked them to "elaborate on their previous statements." Some accounts differed from Carlesimo's and "the players were apparently surprised" to have them read in his presence (N.Y. TIMES, 1/29). MORE TO COME: The hearing continues today and "possibly Friday," then moves to New York next week, where Carlesimo will testify (Thomas Heath, WASHINGTON POST, 1/29). But in Chicago, Lacy Banks reports that it is not certain even if Sprewell or Carlesimo will testify at all. Banks: "That has become uncertain because sources confirm reports that neither Carlesimo nor Sprewell are the primary focus of the arbitration any longer. Rather, the NBA players union is going after the Warriors and the NBA, claiming Sprewell's punishments were excessive." One "insider" said NBA Commissioner David Stern may be asked to testify about "how and why he arrived" at his decision (SUN-TIMES, 1/29).