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12-24-2003, 12:40 PM
Sprewell's tirade doesn't fall on deaf ears

As Frank Isola writes in the New York Daily News, Latrell Sprewell "came, he cursed, he conquered," and by the time he was done scoring 31 points against the New York Tuesday night, all the Knicks could do was whine to the league in hopes that it would fine him.

Make no mistake about. Sprewell deserves every penny of the fine that David Stern will levy upon him for berating Knicks owner Jim Dolan, Knicks assistant coach Lon Kruger and anyone and everyone else in Madison Square Garden who got in his way.

And make no mistake about, he'll gladly write the check.

"That's the way I play, and when I got it going, it comes out," said Sprewell in the N.Y. Post.

Latrell Sprewell
Minnesota Timberwolves

27 17.7 4.3 3.9 .426 .832

It began with 1:55 left in the first quarter after Sprewell drove to the bucket and was fouled. He walked immediately toward Dolan, dropping several obscenities along the way. Early in the second quarter, after a Keith Van Horn block on Sprewell was ruled goaltending, the former Knick again made his way toward Dolan with more cursing.

It got worse, though, in the fourth quarter. After making a 3-pointer with 1:14 left, Sprewell bolted downcourt for another tirade on Dolan. Referees warned him to stop, but during ensuing free throws by Sam Cassell, Sprewell again launched an attack against Dolan, then the Knick bench, then Kruger and received a technical.

Of course, it had everything to do with the fact that Dolan forced the trade of Sprewell to Minnesota and then blasted the swingman's character in the media soon following. Sprewell told reporters that he had heard Dolan threaten his former teammates, stating that they had better win tonight against Spree, and even stuck out his tongue at the player during the fourth quarter.

"It was clear that it was personal," said Allan Houston in the Daily News. "I don't condone it but he's emotional. Was it right? No, I don't think it was right. Had he handled it differently I think a lot of the people would have had a lot of respect for him. Some people still do. He could have let his performance speak for him."

Well, this was his performance. Sprewell scored 31 points, making 12 of 14 free throws and adding three rebounds, two steals and an assist as the Timberwolves moved to 18-9 while the Knicks fell to 10-19.

"All I can tell you is that he doesn't belong in our stadium," an irate Dolan said in the N.Y. Daily News.

MSG president Steve Mills then sought out NBA vice president Stu Jackson, in attendance, admonishing the executive to take action against the player while new general manager Isiah Thomas remained quiet on the periphery, Knick players dropped their jaws, Antonio McDyess rubbed his ailing knee and Dolan quickly exited the building. Some fans cheered Sprewell. Some fans booed him.

"I can't tell my sources, but when [Dolan] announced that Zeke was taking over, he told them that they better win," Sprewell said in the N.Y. Times. "I got the scoop on that. It just shows me how the guy is. He does stuff like that. Then he announces that Zeke's taking over on the eve of my return. All the little games he's played this entire year, talking about my character and all of that. I let him do the talking earlier, and I'm just glad I was able to do the talking tonight.

"To be able to play in front of my fans here that love me so much and perform like that was definitely sweet. I played well. I'm happy we won. That's the bottom line. The stuff that I was doing, that's just the way I play."

Board responsibilities keeping Garnett busy

Poor Mark Madsen.

Everyone else in the league has to box out Kevin Garnett two, maybe three or four times a year during the regular season. But Madsen had to guard him during training camp, tune him up during preseason and greco-roman with him at each and every practice this year as KG became the best rebounder in the NBA on one of the worst rebounding teams in the entire league.

Look below.

The Timberwolves are the seventh-worst rebounding team in the league and might be a bit better if Madsen hadn't been out between Dec. 9 and Dec. 20 trying to recover from wounds suffered during the year from friend and foe as the case may be.

But as it stands, the hard-working Madsen was the second-best rebounder on the team before he went down at 4.7 per game, which still left Garnett one tired individual at the end of games.

And to find out just how tired, we took the leading rebounder from each team and calculated what percentage of rebounds that player was getting on each night's work.

And guess what.

We sympathize with Mr. Madsen even more now than when we first started this exercise.

Most burdened boarders

1. Kevin Garnett, Minnesota Timberwolves
Stats: 33.6% (13.8 rpg of team's 41)
In the 2000-01 season, KG pulled down 11.4 rebounds per game and we thought that pretty good for a guy also averaging 22 points a game and five assists. The next year, he grabbed 12.1 boards per game and then 13.4 the next year and then, this year, 13.8 to go along with his 24.3 points per game and, you guessed it, five assists. At this rate, he's going to put his center and small forward out of a job and have to go find some three-on-three game against Thor, Hercules and Paul Bunyan. And if you think that's pressure, realize that in the 17 games that the Timberwolves have won this year, Garnett has averaged 14.5 rebounds per game.

2. Ben Wallace, Detroit Pistons
Stats: 29.6% (12.5 rpg of team's 42.1)
Put this bear back in the woods and he'll turn this ranking inside out. Last year, when they let him rebound and defend and do the things he knew he could do, he averaged 15.4 rebounds per game to not only lead the league but make up 37.9 percent of his team's total boards. Of course, the drop to No. 2 had as much to do with Larry Brown turning Big Ben into a 39 percent shooter as it did with the Pistons becoming an overall better team at rebounding, going from a 0.7 deficit last year per game to a plus-1 this year. But tell me you weren't notching your coffee table during the playoffs last year everytime a shot went up in a Pistons game.

3. Tim Duncan, San Antonio Spurs
Stats: 28.07% (13 rpg of team's 46.3)
Head coach Gregg Popovich has been harping all season that the current edition of the Spurs is not the defending NBA champs. He's right. The team is better . . . at least in terms of rebounding. Last year, the Spurs grabbed 42.6 boards per game. This year, they're at 46.3. There's at least four reasons for this. Tim Duncan remains brilliant. Radoslav Nesterovic's limber legs are better than David Robinson's brittle, battle-worn legs. Manu Ginobili has been wound up and turned loose. And the Spurs can't shoot. Last year, they made 46 percent of their shots, which allowed for only 11.5 offensive rebounds per game. This year, they're shooting 42 percent allowing for 12.6 offensive rebounds per game.

4. Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
Stats: 28.03% (12 rpg of team's 42.8)
That rumbling under your feet is this number about to go through the roof at any moment. In October, Shaq averaged nine boards per game. In November, he averaged 10.6. In December, he's averaging 14.8. And let's not forget, he had little help last year with Kobe Bryant being the next best rebounder on the team at 6.9 compared to this year's bruiser Karl Malone, who is at 9.5. With Malone sitting out the next three games with a knee injury and the Lakers getting plenty in the scoring column from the rest of the team throughout the year, expect Shaq to get a little more ornery on the glass immediately and also down the road.

5. Erick Dampier, Golden State Warriors
Stats: 27.6% (11.8 rpg of team's 42.6)
Dampier has always been a starter. Now, he's also a finisher going from 24 minutes per game last year to 32 this year. As a result, he's become the fifth-best rebounder in the entire league with more offensive boards than anyone in the game after grabbing a pitiful 6.6 per game last year. Of course, the Warriors have always been a good rebounding team since, well, that's about the only thing they were good at. And with Troy Murphy (10.2 rpg last year) working his way back into the lineup, expect them to regain that form this year even if it means Dampier's percentage in this ranking goes down a bit as his status on the floor goes up.

Most bored boarders

29. Rashard Lewis, Seattle SuperSonics
Stats: 17% (6.7 rpg of team's 39.4)
Let's be honest. This team doesn't have a starting center. It doesn't have a power forward. There isn't a meat eater in the bunch. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that an athletic swingman is leading them in rebounding even if that same said athletic swingman leading the team is 46th overall in the 29-team NBA. Night in and night out the Sonics are beat on the offensive glass and defensive glass, giving up an average of five more rebounds than they get a game. Pass the asparagus.

28. Etan Thomas, Washington Wizards
Stats: 17.6% (9.3 rpg of team's 42.4)
If Kwame Brown, the No. 1 pick of the 2001 draft, were able to play 50.8 minutes per game, he might be able to post some decent board numbers. But considering a regulation NBA game is only 48 minutes long and coach Eddie Jordan sees fit to tolerate him on the floor only 25.4 minutes a game, then the Wizards are just going to have to rely on 12th pick of the 2000 draft to box out the five other guys on the court wearing a different color uniform.

27. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Stats: 18.7% (7.7 rpg of team's 41.1)
I guess we could blame Pierce for leading the team in points, assists and steals while being second in blocks and triples while grabbing only 7.7 rebounds per game to also lead the team. Or we can wait for Raef LaFrentz to rehab, Chris Mihm to get acclimated and Mike James to cut his wisdom teeth to see how this team is really going to take shape. Until then, say your prayers for Vin Baker and hope Paul had a good night's sleep before the next game.

26. Drew Gooden, Orlando Magic
Stats: 19.1% (8.1 rpg of team's 42.3)
We're still not sure if Gooden is playing center or if it's Juwan Howard in the middle and Gooden at power forward or the other way around. And does it really matter when no one else on the team not named McGrady can grab more than four boards a game ? And to think they traded Ben Wallace to get Grant Hill. To think they traded Mike Miller to get Gooden, who averaged 12.7 rebounds per game in last year's playoffs but somehow managed only 6.4 a game as the Magic went 0-14 in November.

25. Pau Gasol, Memphis Grizzlies
Stats: 19.9% (8.4 rpg of team's 42.1)
There's a reason Gasol is always looking over at the bench when things start to get a little rough for the Grizzlies. That's because the team's second- and third-best rebounders play only 45.8 minutes per game combined. And the amazing thing isn't that Stromile Swift and Lorenzen Wright can't crack the starting lineup on a consistent basis but that the guys who do hear their names called at the beginnings of games can't track the trajectory of a round ball against a see-through panel if their careers depended on it. Jake Tsakalidas has 11 starts and 12 offensive boards. Shane Battier is averaging a career-low 3.8 rebounds per game. James Posey isn't doing much better at 3.807. So I guess Mr. Gasol is just a victim of circumstance as the Grizzlies rotation expands to include the 15 players on the official roster, two ball boys and a popcorn vendor, not one of whom plays more than three quarters a game including Gasol.

Peep Show

Houston Rockets: Cuttino Mobley had two words for his performance Tuesday night. Actually, it was two numbers: "2-13" he kept repeating in front of his locker, "2-13," as the Rockets lost, 79-71, to the Pacers. "Anybody can blame it on sickness or whatever," he said in the Houston Chronicle. "I played, so that's the whole thing. I did terrible. I did terrible tonight. Two-for-13, you know. Coach is depending on you to perform. Two-of-13. You can play or you don't play. I chose to play." Teammates will tell you that he was sick before and after the game but Mobley isn't having any of it. "I don't want any sympathy," Mobley said. "I played bad. That's all I can really tell you. I definitely wasn't (myself physically). But I played. I'm always hard on myself, but tonight I'm really fighting myself."

Seattle SuperSonics: Ray Allen is back. Just ask the head coach of the opposing team. "We said, 'Do not give him anything easy at the beginning because then you'll get him off and get the crowd off,' " Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said in the Seattle Times. "What do we do? We gave him a layup, and that kind of set the tone for a bad night." After missing 25 games following surgery to his ankle, Allen played his first game last night and scored 24 points in the 116-90 victory. "I felt pretty good," Allen said. "There were times when I was tired ... and luckily the play stopped."

Indiana Pacers: By the look on Yao Ming's face after getting dunked on by Jermaine O'Neal, you'd never know which one of them was suffering from knee tendinitis. "I think my kneecap is a little off track. It's rubbing in areas that it shouldn't be and it's become more and more painful," said O'Neal in the Indianapolis Star. "I'm not getting that bounce under me anymore and I really don't know what else I can do about it." Head coach Rick Carlisle knows that his star is in pain but is leaving it up to him. "It's going to be up to him. If he feels like he can push it, we'll let him go," Carlisle said. "But we can't make that decision for him. He knows his body and that's what we have to go by."

San Antonio Spurs: Woulda, coulda, shoulda isn't exactly how Elton Brand would describe his almost becoming a Spur during the offseason. "They had the cap room and were the defending world champions, and I was a semi-free agent, so of course I had to think about them," Brand said in the San Antonio Express News. "But we didn't talk that much. It was definitely understandable. When you're the defending world champions, you have to try to improve your team because everybody is going to be gunning for you. If I was unrestricted it might have been different. But they had to look in other directions."

Philadelphia 76ers: Head coach Randy Ayers will jump on a plane Thursday with the rest of his team and head to Los Angeles for their next game and he can only hope Allen Iverson is with them while still dealing with knee problems. "We're being a little bit more concerned at this point because of the swelling," Ayers said in the Philadelphia Daily News. "The swelling hasn't gone down like we thought it would. He told me [Monday] it hasn't gotten any worse, it hasn't gotten any better. To me, that's a positive...All of us are on the same page; if he's not feeling right, if he's not feeling comfortable, we won't play him."

Cleveland Cavaliers: For Darius Miles, the number 10 is proving to be very unlucky. "It is difficult to play 10 guys. Right now we have a good rotation of nine men," head coach Paul Silas said in the Akron Beacon Journal. "We're starting to win a little bit, and I like what those guys are bringing. It's tough to get (Miles) minutes." Miles used to be the franchise player before LeBron James arrived. Then he used to be the starting small forward before Eric Williams arrived. Now, he's getting even fewer minutes off the bench with Kedrick Brown also in the rotation and DaJuan Wagner making his back from injury. "He's still using his brace. Once we get that off and he continues to get his wind and gets in shape, he'll be fine," Silas said of a possible Jan. 2 return for Wagner. "He's been good in practice. He's killing people out there."

12-24-2003, 11:42 PM
I can't imagine why the Knicks owners wanted to get rid of Sprewell (sarcastic tone)

Max Power
12-25-2003, 09:15 PM
Thanks for posting the article.