Sprewell will win his
law suit against the NBA!

Last week, lawyers for Golden State Warrior Latrell Sprewell called a press conference to announce they were going to sue the National Basketball Association for $30 million. Sprewell's lawyers cited unfair disciplinary practices and civil rights violations in regards to the punishment that Sprewell received after he choked Warrior head coach P.J. Carlesimo on December 1, of last year.

It was on Dec. 1, that Sprewell snapped and choked Carlesimo at a Warriors practice after Carlesimo yelled at him. After going down stairs to the team locker room and changing his clothes, Sprewell went back to the practice where he got into another altercation with Carlesimo. The players broke it up and Sprewell left the practice and the Warriors immediately called a press conference to announce they were suspending Sprewell for 10 games and fining him roughly $800,000.
Two days later the Warriors voided the remaining two years of Sprewell's $32 million contract, and they released him. The NBA then stepped in and suspended him for a year. What followed next was a media onslaught that would have made director D.W. Griffith (Birth of a Nation) proud. Despite not knowing all of the facts, the media labeled Sprewell a thug, a cancer to the league, and became flat out hostile towards him which also verged on the edges of being racist. This hostility could be summed up by the words of San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Tim Keown.
"Just look at Sprewell," wrote Keown, after the choking incident. "His appearance has gone full gangster this year, with his braids and wispy sideburns. He is a hard shadowy figure."

Sprewell was later vindicated by an arbitrator that ruled he was unfairly let go, and his one year suspension was shortened to the end of this season. His contractual obligations with Golden State were reinstated, but Sprewell was out of $6 million dollars as a result of being suspended for the rest of the season.

Sprewell said he was wrong in choking Carlesimo, and that there was nothing racial that led to him to attack on Carlesimo. But the leagues reaction to the choking incident was racial when you consider that 79 percent of the players are black, and the management is predominately white, and it had to send a message to it's buying public (mostly white) that it has it's young black players "in check."
When the civil rights lawsuit was announced last week, David Stern, the NBA commissioner said he was befuddled on the matter and that Sprewell was "out of touch" with reality. The NBA Players Association announced in a press release they were not supporting him, like they did during his arbitration hearing. Sportswriters led by the Chronicle's Keown immediately called Sprewell a stupid and greedy man who was playing the "victim role."
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we present Latrell Sprewell, victim," wrote Keown, last week. "A lawsuit that tosses out the idea that Sprewell was persecuted in part because of his race? This can only transform him from a guy who made a mistake into a delusional clown."

So Sprewell is on an island by himself. He is fighting the NBA and it's massive public relations machine, heís without the backing of the NBA players association who supported him in the past, and he is fighting against a full fury of angry white sport writers who are taken aback by the nerve of this young black man. But despite all of these obstacles, Sprewell will win his lawsuit against the NBA if he pushes it all of the way and this is why.
A few weeks before Sprewell altercation with Carlesimo, the exact same thing happened with a white player in the NBA and nothing happened. Tom Chambers, who is white, punched and knocked out the strength and conditioning coach for the Phoenix Suns Robin Pound, and he walked away from the scene as if nothing happened.

Was Chambers made public enemy number 1 by the NBA? No. Was Chambers fined or suspended by the NBA? No. Was Chambers vilified in the media? No. Did writers like the Chronicle's Tim Keown write about it? No. This incident was quietly swept under the rug and Chambers was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers were he then quietly retired.
Sounds like a double standard to me. If Chambers would have been black, he would have been crucified by NBA and the full weight of a media onslaught, but because Chambers has a white skin privilege, he could get away with something Sprewell couldn't.

Sprewell and his lawyers know about this incident and they will surely bring this up in his lawsuit. Sprewell also knows this lawsuit won't win him any friends and it will create even more hostility towards him in the public and the media, but sometimes you have to do things that go against public sentiment to prove you are right. Muhammad Ali did it years ago when he refused to go fight in Vietnam, and his boxing title was taken away from him. He took this issue to the United States Supreme Court and won, despite the fact he was crucified in the media as a Nation of Islam black militant on the way. Today Ali is seen as a media darling, and writers like Keown gush over him with praises of adulation every time Ali is in the public spotlight. Mark my words, Sprewell will win this case, or the NBA will quietly settle this matter to avoid an incident that will show the league, just like every other facet of American life, has a double standard when things involve blacks and whites.

written by Lee Hubbard

For interview requests, questions or comments call Lee Hubbard at (415)671-0449 or e-mail him at
Look at your nearest newsstand for his profile on Latrell Sprewell in the premiere issue of the Source Sports magazine and his profile on Ishmael Reed in the April/May issue of American Visions Magazine.

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