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SPREWELL'S $30M SUIT AGAINST NBA DECRIED AS WASTE OF TIME
Published May 21, 1998
Warriors G Latrell Sprewell sued the Warriors and the NBA yesterday, "seeking lost wages and damages stemming from what his lawyers allege as excessive discipline for Sprewell's attack" on coach P.J. Carlesimo last December, according to Jesse Barkin of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, alleges the team and league "made several transgressions -- including a violation of Sprewell's civil rights, racial discrimination and violation of antitrust and unfair business practices statutes at the federal and state level." Sprewell is "seeking as much" as $30M, which takes into account lost wages of $6.4M, plus court costs, legal fees and damages (S.J. MERCURY NEWS, 5/21). The suit also states that the league "demonized Sprewell with a 'massive' public-relations campaign that made him a scapegoat." Also named in the suit were parties "X, Y, and Z," which will be fill-ins for potential defendants added later. Sprewell was not present at the press conference, but is scheduled to make a public comment "in the near future," according to his legal advisor, Robert Gist. In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes that the "breadth and the scope of the suit had many observers raising their eyebrows, but few jumped on the bandwagon." The NBPA issued a statement that it "has not endorsed this lawsuit and has advised Mr. Sprewell's attorney against bringing this action" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/21). In a statement, NBA Exec VP & Chief Legal Officer Jeffrey Mishkin said, "This is a poorly disguised attempt by Mr. Sprewell's new attorneys to reargue claims that have already been rejected and put to rest by the arbitrator" (NBA). TIME FOR WAPNER: SI legal analyst Lester Munson said that Sprewell "is going to go 0-for-4 in this case. His lawyers were sitting there at the press conference talking about punitive damages, treble damages, double jeopardy. They misused almost all of these legal terms. I think the outcome here is going to be that the NBA will not only win this case early but also Latrell Sprewell will end up paying the NBA's attorney's fees for getting this case dismissed" ("Sports Tonight," CNN, 5/20). In S.F., C.W. Nevius writes that Sprewell's suit is "about revenge" and has "no chance." Nevius: "This is a long longshot, and a play that a lot of major law firms wouldn't even begin to touch" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/21). In Denver, Mark Kiszla writes Sprewell's suit is an example of the "sad tale of a professional sports league dying slowly at the hands of millionaires who are above the law. .... Sprewell isn't killing the NBA's integrity. He's just here to bury it" (DENVER POST, 5/21). In related news, George magazine named Sprewell one its 20 most fascinating men in politics, saying he "finally set the bar for what the American public will tolerate from the modern pro athlete" (N.Y. POST, 5/21). PLAYERS WARNED TO CLEAN UP: In Seattle, Steve Kelley, under the header, "NBA Millionaires Continue To Act Anything But Civil," wrote, "Do the players really think the public is going to be on their side if owners follow through with their threat of a lockout?" (SEATTLE TIMES, 5/20).