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Stern Hits This Softball Right Out of the Ballpark

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING . . . : Columnists Going on a Writing
Spree

December 11, 1997|HARVEY ARATON | NEW YORK TIMES

Fights. Referee assaults. Bar brawls. Spousal abuse. Guns. Drugs. You name it, NBA players in recent years have been guilty of it, and, finally, here came a softball that [Commissioner David] Stern was not going to take for a called strike. After years of double talk and denial, of making excuses and accusing uncoverers of NBA scandal of witch hunts and worse, Stern was ready to hit this softball out of the park.

Latrell Sprewell, an expendable commodity from a terrible team, would not be missed. If Michael Jordan had choked, assaulted and threatened to kill his coach as Sprewell did P.J. Carlesimo, history tells us that Stern would not have been so quick to send him away for the year. His partner, the network, would not have liked that. . . .

[Sprewell's] actions are indefensible. He deserved what he got from his former employer. The story--sports franchise finally shows guts--had an encouraging message until Stern, ever the NBA image maker, stepped in and made Sprewell, in many eyes, a victim of a witch hunt. To borrow a line from the commissioner himself.

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