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SBD/19/Leagues Governing Bodies
LATRELL GOES TO THE WELL ONE MORE TIME: THREATENS LAWSUIT
Published May 19, 1998
Attorneys representing Warriors G Latrell Sprewell "have notified the NBA that they are considering suing the league, and the Warriors," for $30M in damages, according to David Steele of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The suit would "charge violations of his civil rights and of federal antitrust and labor laws, and demand that Sprewell not only be returned" the $6.4M he lost from his 68-game suspension, but that the Warriors trade him "immediately." As of yesterday, the suit had not been filed. Sprewell is being represented by Atlanta-based labor lawyer Robert Thompson, who said that a suit is "something [Sprewell's] been weighing over time." Thompson also said that Sprewell is "investigating" whether the decision of arbitrator John Feerick can be overturned in court "on a number of grounds." Those include the "argument" that Sprewell was punished "more harshly because he is black," that he was punished twice for the same crime, and that the league and team "engaged in a 'demonization' of his image and 'conspiracy and restraint of trade' by depriving him of his livelihood" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/19). NBPA NOT INVOLVED: Steele adds that it was "obvious" that Sprewell's "various representatives and advisers were not in total agreement with the proposed suit." An NBPA spokesperson said, "Make this clear: We're not a part of this action at all." Sprewell's agent, Arn Tellem, could not be reached for comment (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/19). NBA RESPONSE & REAX: In a statement, NBA Exec VP/Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin called Sprewell's proposed suit "totally absurd" (NBA). TNT's Kenny Smith: "If I'm Latrell Sprewell, sometimes you gotta just know when to fold them. I think I would just fold the tent on this. Go ahead and play basketball. You're reinstated" (TNT, 5/18). P.J. Carlesimo was on ESPN's "Up Close" and said the team has "two options" with Sprewell: "Spree's going to be in Golden State or we're going to be able to do a deal. I think both of us right now would prefer that we do a deal. And that's probably the best thing for the team" (ESPN, 5/18).