SPREWELL HEARING, DAY TWO: PLAYERS CALL IT "INTENSE"
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).