Volume 91, Issue 67

Wednesday, January 28, 1998




Hardcourt tragedy

The perception of the professional athlete will further be tainted when the Latrell Sprewell case begins deliberations this week. Unfortunately, the trial will solve nothing in the way of clearing up the episode in which this "professional" athlete strangled and threatened to kill his coach, P.J. Carlesimo – and the punishment, no matter how harsh, will not fit the crime.

Allowing Sprewell to come back at all is a shame, in no way deterring future athletes from acting in the same irresponsible manner. The message being sent is: if you're a good athlete and can make money for someone else, then go ahead and do anything you want!

The worst he might get is a year off – an unfortunate policy of many of the top bananas in sports who believe in being extra lenient for crimes such as drug infractions, drunk driving and anything that involves breaking public laws.

The alleged crime in this case, however, is a new situation to every professional league in the world and the National Basketball Association had a chance to be a leader. Sadly, they blew it. Many say that one year is harsh, but if a worker hit his boss, what are the chances of him getting his job back? If the league has any backbone it should enforce a same stance that any normal business would.

Secondly, Sprewell and his entourage, including the infamous lawyer John Cochrane of O.J. Simpson fame, have tried to use racism in as an issue. It begs the question that in a league where 80 per cent of the players are black and most of the Golden State Warriors are black, why was Sprewell the only player to react in such a severe way?

Granted, Sprewell's side of the story really hasn't been told, which seems to indicate he does not even have a side. In his press conference he avoided questions of motive, letting his advisers and lawyers do the talking, which seemed to tell the viewing audience he has something to hide.

Carlesimo has been in the league for quite a number of years and even though he has the reputation for being hard on his players, he has never been accused of being racist or making racist remarks. The simple fact that Sprewell sunk this low in order to discredit his coach says a lot about his character.

Finally, it is Sprewell's argument that the NBA has taken away his ability to make a living, which goes even further in proving his ignorance. Sprewell is a millionaire and if he never stepped onto the hardwood floors again, money would not be a huge problem (he was being paid $4 million a year). To say the NBA has ruined his livelihood is absurd, since it was the NBA that gave it to him in the first place.

The NBA did not do this to Latrell Sprewell, he did this to himself. By grabbing and threatening his coach, he broke his contract with Golden State and therefore they terminated it – just about all they could do aside from charging him with attempted murder.

The last thing which makes this situation so unbelievable is the fact that Sprewell knows he'll be back. He's one of the top players in the world, which makes him an asset to any team in the NBA. As well, he will return with, undoubtedly, a substantial pay raise. He will continue on with his life, living in the lap of luxury, using his talent as a 'get out of jail free' card.

Agree or Disagree? Be an arm-chair quarterback. Send us your comments via email at gazsport@julian.uwo.ca or drop off letters to Rm. 263 in the UCC.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998