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More NBA Players Linked to Arizona Drug/Gambling Probe

May 09, 1987|From Times Wire Services

Guard Dennis Johnson of the Boston Celtics and former NBA players Phil Ford, Rich Kelley, David Thirdkill and Fred Brown were identified in secret court documents as having used cocaine, a Mesa, Ariz., newspaper reported Friday.

The Mesa Tribune also reported that Johnson and centers Jack Sikma and Paul Mokeski of the Milwaukee Bucks were linked to an Arizona grand jury's investigation into alleged drug use and illegal gambling.

The paper said that according to transcripts of testimony before a Maricopa County grand jury in Phoenix, Johnny High, formerly of the Phoenix Suns, said he had used cocaine with Johnson, Kelley and Brown.

Ford and Thirdkill were implicated by Walter Davis, a Phoenix player who entered a Van Nuys drug rehabilitation clinic after the grand jury returned drug indictments against nine people, including five current or former Sun players, on April 16.

No charges have been filed against any of the recently named players or former players.

Johnson, Sikma and Mokeski, in Milwaukee for Friday night's playoff game between the Celtics and the Bucks, strongly denied the allegations.

"I do not use cocaine," Johnson said. "I did not. I hope I get my point across. I have not, I will not. I do not intend to."

According to the newspaper, testimony on April 9 alleged that Sikma and Mokeski gave a Phoenix nightclub manager winning betting advice the night before the Bucks beat the Suns Feb. 21, 115-107.

Sikma admitted that he had been at Malarkey's, a Phoenix nightclub, two nights before the game with Mokeski, Buck trainer Jeff Snedeker and Milwaukee Journal reporter Tom Enlund but said that when he left, "I left there with no knowledge of anything unusual."

Sikma said he was disappointed and angered by the allegations. "There's absolutely no truth to it," he said. "No matter what happens now, or however it comes out, I'm associated with the situation. I've worked hard to make sure I've upheld my responsibility as a pro athlete, not just for the fans, but for myself."

Sikma denied knowing James Jordan, the nightclub manager in question. Mokeski said he had met Jordan during an off-season golf trip to Hawaii.

According to the newspaper, the transcripts indicated that a bartender at the nightclub testified that Jordan might have given Mokeski $100 worth of cocaine in return for a betting tip.

Mokeski broke into tears as he spoke to reporters at a news conference shortly after the Bucks' morning practice. "This is going to affect me mentally," he said. "My family is affected, and there is no way I can get that back."

Mokeski added: "(Jordan) did not offer me cocaine. I did not take cocaine and did not give him any information about the game other than what I would give to an average fan who would come up and says, 'How's the team playing?' "

High, who played for the Suns in the 1982-83 season, Davis and Sun center William Bedford reportedly were granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for their testimony before the grand jury, although prosecutors refuse to confirm this.

Court officials in Phoenix said that transcripts of grand jury testimony were by law sealed and made available only to prosecution and defense attorneys. They could not explain how the newspaper obtained them.

Those indicted on drug charges are Sun players James Edwards, Grant Gondrezick and Jay Humphries; former Sun players Mike Bratz and Garfield Heard, Jordan, the team's photographer and two other Phoenix nightclub figures.

In excerpts from the transcript, Davis--who also spent 30 days in the same drug clinic in Van Nuys during the 1985-86 season--told prosecutor James Keppel he used cocaine provided by Gondrezick three times in December 1986 in hotel rooms in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.

Davis said he also had used cocaine with Thirdkill, Ford, High, Edwards and Humphries. Bedford testified that he first used cocaine as a sophomore at Memphis State and that he used it once, in November 1986, after joining the Suns. He said Gondrezick provided the cocaine.

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