Latrell Fontaine Sprewell (born September 8, 1970) is an American former professional basketball player who played for the Golden State Warriors, the New York Knicks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. During his time as a professional, Sprewell was named to the yearly NBA All-Star game four times; he also helped the Knicks reach the NBA Finals and the Timberwolves the Western Conference finals. Despite his accomplishments, his career was overshadowed by a 1997 incident in which he choked coach P. J. Carlesimo during a practice, which ultimately resulted in a 68-game suspension.
|Born||September 8, 1970|
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||195 lb (88 kg)|
|High school||Washington (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)|
|NBA draft||1992 / Round: 1 / Pick: 24th overall|
|Selected by the Golden State Warriors|
|Position||Shooting guard / Small forward|
|1992–1998||Golden State Warriors|
|1998–2003||New York Knicks|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||16,712 (18.3 ppg)|
|Assists||3,664 (4.0 apg)|
|Steals||1,294 (1.4 spg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Sprewell's career came to an unexpected end in 2005 when he refused a $21-million three-year contract offer from the Timberwolves, which Sprewell implied would not be enough to feed his children. He was never offered another contract by any NBA team, and never played in the league again. Since that time, he has made headlines for grounding his million-dollar yacht and subsequently having it repossessed for missed payments, having two of his homes foreclosed upon, and being prohibited from seeing his children.
Golden State WarriorsEdit
After attending Washington High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sprewell played competitively with the Three Rivers Community College Raiders Basketball Team in Poplar Bluff, Missouri from 1988–1990, and from 1990–1992 with the University of Alabama, where he was a teammate of future NBA players Robert Horry, Jason Caffey and James Robinson.
He was selected 24th overall in the 1992 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. Sprewell, nicknamed "Spree", made an immediate impact, starting 69 of the 77 games he played in during his rookie season and averaging 15.4 points per game. His performance would improve over the next few years, leading the team in scoring and playing for the Western Conference All-Star team in 1994, 1995, and 1997, scoring 24.2 ppg in 1996–97, fifth in the league. Additionally, in 1993–1994 he led the league in games played and minutes per game as the Warriors, led by Sprewell and NBA Rookie of the year power forward Chris Webber, made it back to the playoffs. They would, however, lose in the first round to the Phoenix Suns in three games.
1997 choking incidentEdit
A significant blemish on Sprewell's career was an incident that took place on December 1, 1997, when he attacked head coach P. J. Carlesimo during a Warriors practice. When Carlesimo yelled at Sprewell to make crisper passes (specifically asking him to "put a little mustard" on a pass), Sprewell responded that he was not in the mood for criticism and told the coach to keep his distance. When Carlesimo approached, Sprewell threatened to kill him and dragged him backwards by his throat, choking him for 7–10 seconds before his teammates and assistant coaches pulled Sprewell off his coach. Sprewell returned about 20 minutes later after showering and changing and again accosted Carlesimo. He landed a glancing blow at Carlesimo's right cheek before being dragged away again by the assistant coaches. It was not his first violent incident with the Warriors; in 1995, Sprewell fought with teammate Jerome Kersey and returned to practice carrying a two-by-four, and reportedly threatened to return with a gun. In a 1993 practice, Sprewell fought with Byron Houston, who was 50 pounds heavier than Sprewell and had what many teammates described as a Mike Tyson-like demeanor and physique.
Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. However, the next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract altogether, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him for one year. Sprewell took the case to arbitration and the contract voiding was overturned, but the league did suspend him for the rest of the season without pay, which amounted to 68 games. He sought to vacate the arbitration contract under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. His case went through all appeals, and was remanded. During the time he was serving his suspension from the NBA, Sprewell was charged with reckless driving for his role in a 90-mile-per-hour accident that injured two people. He spent three months under house arrest as part of a no-contest plea.
New York KnicksEdit
Due to the NBA lockout, Sprewell did not play again until February 1999, after the Warriors traded him to the New York Knicks for John Starks, Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. Sprewell played 37 games for the Knicks that season, playing off the bench in all but four games.
Many pundits felt that signing the volatile Sprewell was too big a gamble for the Knicks to take, but Sprewell himself vowed he was a changed man. The Knicks, who at the time still revolved around veteran All-Star center Patrick Ewing, narrowly qualified for the 1999 playoffs, making the field as the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks navigated past the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and finally the Indiana Pacers, making it as the first eighth seed in NBA history to the 1999 NBA Finals, where they met the San Antonio Spurs, who beat them in five games although Sprewell enjoyed a good series for the most part, averaging 26.0 ppg. He tallied 35 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Knicks' 78-77 Game 5 loss, and was subsequently featured on the cover of the September 1999 issue of SLAM Magazine.
Sprewell moved into the Knicks' starting lineup for the 1999–2000 season at small forward, and averaged 18.6 points, helping the Knicks to a 50–32 record good enough for the third seed in the Eastern Conference led by Sprewell, Ewing and shooting guard Allan Houston. The Knicks navigated past the Toronto Raptors in three hard-fought games and the Miami Heat in seven even harder-fought games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, en route to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers. But their quest for back-to-back NBA Finals appearances came to an end when they were defeated by the Pacers in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Sprewell averaged 19.7 ppg in the series, and the Knicks gave him a five-year/$62 million contract extension.
The 2000–01 season saw Sprewell step up as the Knicks' leader with Ewing traded to the Seattle SuperSonics, making his only All-Star appearance for the Knicks that year, scoring 17.7 points off the bench. However, despite another impressive season from Sprewell the Knicks would lose in the first round to the Toronto Raptors in five games in those 2001 playoffs. In 2001–02 Sprewell averaged 19.4 ppg, including 49 points in a game against the Boston Celtics, one of three times he scored 40 or more points that season; but it was not enough as the Knicks would miss the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.
Prior to the 2002–03 season, Sprewell reported to training camp with a broken hand, which he claimed occurred when he slipped on his yacht; the Knicks fined him a record $250,000 for failing to report the incident to them. He then sued the New York Post for claiming he had broken his hand in a fight. Sprewell ultimately lost the lawsuit against the New York Post.
That season, Sprewell made NBA history as he hit 9 of 9 three-point shots in one game, making the most three-pointers without a single miss for the first time en route to a season-high 38 points versus the Los Angeles Clippers. The record has since been tied twice by then-Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon. After that season, in which the Knicks missed the playoffs for the second year in a row, Sprewell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a four-team trade involving Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson and Terrell Brandon.
In the 2003–04 season, Sprewell became part of the league's highest-scoring trio alongside superstar power forward Kevin Garnett and point guard Sam Cassell. With a 58–24 record, the Timberwolves qualified for the 2004 playoffs as the top seed in the Western Conference. They navigated past the Denver Nuggets in five games, and Sacramento Kings in seven, in the first two rounds of the playoffs. In the Western Conference Finals they met the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated them in six games, still the only appearance by the Timberwolves in the conference finals. Sprewell finished third in team scoring at 16.8 ppg, behind Garnett's 24.2 and Cassell's 19.8.
On October 31, 2004, the Minnesota Timberwolves offered Sprewell a three-year, $21 million contract extension, substantially less than what his then-current contract paid him. Claiming to feel insulted by the offer he publicly expressed outrage, declaring, "I have a family to feed." He declined the extension and the Timberwolves offered him nothing more. Having once more drawn the ire of fans and sports media, Sprewell had the worst season of his career in the final year of his contract. In the summer of 2005, the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets all expressed interest in signing Sprewell, but none ended up signing him.
One month into the 2005–06 season and without a contract, Sprewell's agent, Bob Gist, said his client would rather retire than play for the NBA minimum salary, telling Sports Illustrated, "Latrell doesn't need the money that badly. To go from being offered $7 million to taking $1 million, that would be a slap in the face." Several days later, Gist said that Sprewell planned to wait until "teams get desperate" around the trade deadline in February, and then sign with a contending team - an eventuality that never materialized for him. Gist said that Sprewell would not be interested in signing for any team's $5 million mid-level exception, calling that amount "a level beneath which [Sprewell] would not stoop or kneel!"
In March 2006, Sprewell was offered contracts by the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs, both of whom were considered at the time to be strong favorites to win the NBA Championship, but Sprewell failed to respond and remained a free agent as the season came to a close. The Los Angeles Lakers also showed minimal interest in him at the start of that season, but nothing ever came of it.
Over the course of his career, Sprewell started 868 of the 913 games he played in, averaging 18.8 ppg, 4.2 apg and 4.1 rpg with playoff career averages of 19.7 ppg, 3.4 apg and 4.3 rpg. He was elected to the All-NBA First Team at the end of his second season, and to the All-NBA Defensive second team that same year.
NBA career statisticsEdit
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
|*||Led the league|
Sprewell's personal life since he last played in the NBA has been plagued with controversy and financial trouble. In 1994, his four-year-old daughter was attacked by his pet pit bull and bitten in her nose, lips, forehead and one ear, requiring surgery. Much earlier, while attending junior college, Sprewell had been arrested for stealing. In 2016, he appeared in a Priceline.com television advertisement, poking fun at himself.
On August 30, 2006, Milwaukee police investigated a claim by a 21-year-old female who claimed that she and Sprewell were having consensual sex aboard his 70-foot (21 m) yacht, named Milwaukee's Best, when Sprewell began to strangle her. Police allegedly observed red marks on her neck. Police investigating the allegation searched Sprewell's yacht for evidence. On September 6, police declined to press charges. Sprewell then sought a restraining order along with "civil remedies" against the accuser.
On January 31, 2007, Sprewell's long-term companion sued him for $200 million for ending their relationship agreement. She claimed Sprewell agreed to support her and their four children through college.
On August 22, 2007, it was reported by multiple news agencies that Sprewell's yacht was repossessed by federal marshals after failing to continue paying for and insuring the vessel, for which he reportedly still owed approximately $1.3 million. In addition, while piloted by Sprewell, the yacht ran ashore near Atwater Beach, just north of Milwaukee. Sprewell refused to contract with a professional salvage firm to remove the yacht, which was eventually freed with the help of a local fishing vessel.
In February 2008 the yacht was auctioned for $856,000 after Sprewell defaulted on a $1.5 million mortgage, and three months later a Milwaukee area home owned by Sprewell went into foreclosure status. Between September 2007 and January 2008, according to documents, Sprewell had failed to make mortgage payments of $2,593 per month. In July 2009 a Westchester County, New York mansion owned by Sprewell went into foreclosure status, but that action was dismissed on motion of another party's attorney, Roger K. Marion.
- Ostler, Scott (August 23, 2007). "Captain Spree should remain a landlubber". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Report: Sonics set to make Spurs assistant Carlesimo coach". CBSSports.com. July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on December 12, 2007.
- ESPN Classic - Sprewell's Image Remains in a Chokehold
- "Video". CNN. December 15, 1997.
- AP, March 18, 1998; AP, July 28, 1998
- "Sprewell can't save Knicks". Associated Press. February 6, 1999.
- Bob Purvis and Charles Gardner (August 30, 2006). "Sprewell questioned in alleged assault". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Bob Purvis (September 6, 2006). "No charges against Sprewell". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- "U.S. marshal seizes Sprewell's $1.5M yacht". msnbc.com. August 22, 2007.
- Erin Richards (August 10, 2006). "Sprewell's yacht freed". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- David Doege (February 8, 2008). "Sprewell yacht sold at auction". The Business Journal of Milwaukee.
- Marie Rohde (May 12, 2008). "Latrell Sprewell's home foreclosed". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- "Ex-NBA star Latrell Sprewell $1.5 million yacht, home could be foreclosed". ESPN NBA. Associated Press. February 11, 2008.
- Westchester Supreme Court Index No. 09-16447