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NBA / DAILY REPORT : AROUND THE LEAGUE

Rider Suspended for Spitting

November 22, 1997|Associated Press

Isaiah Rider of the Portland Trail Blazers was suspended Friday for three games and fined $10,000 for spitting at a fan in Detroit.

The incident happened at halftime of Thursday night's 93-87 victory over the Pistons, and the ensuing suspension brought a quick response from Rider's agent and the players' union.

"The NBA made no effort whatsoever to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident," players association director Billy Hunter said. "Had it done so, the NBA would have found that J.R. was provoked by a visibly drunken fan who physically and verbally abused J.R. and his family.

"While no one condones spitting, the league must behave responsibly by fully investigating the circumstances rather than acting first and asking questions later."

Hunter also said the suspension was motivated in part by Rider's refusal to discuss the incident after the game with NBA security officials.

Rider, reached Friday night at his Manhattan hotel room, said the league reduced the suspension from five games to three after he returned their phone calls.

"I just think it's ridiculous," Rider said. "The NBA is setting itself up for a lawsuit or something. We're going to go after them."

NBA vice president of operations Rod Thorn, who announced the fine and suspension in a news release, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Rider has had a long list of off-court troubles, both in Minnesota when he played for the Timberwolves and in Portland. He is the Trail Blazers' leading scorer, averaging 22 points.

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With General Manager Isiah Thomas gone from the Toronto Raptors, his replacement, Glen Grunwald, said that star guard Damon Stoudamire would not be following Thomas in the near future.

Grunwald said he has no intention of trading Stoudamire, whom Thomas tutored after selecting the playmaker from Arizona in the first round of the 1995 draft. Stoudamire, the Raptor captain, is in the final year of his contract and becomes a free agent at season's end.

"I'd like to think that Damon is the cornerstone of the Raptors' franchise and that [a trade] won't be necessary," Grunwald said at a news conference. "Obviously, we're always going to be trying to improve our team."

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In a deal involving players with bad backs, the Philadelphia 76ers traded Marko Milic to the Phoenix Suns for veteran Tom Chambers.

The 76ers also put Derrick Coleman on the injured list because of an irregular heartbeat.

Coleman is expected to be sidelined for the next two or three weeks. He is undergoing testing, which will continue Monday.

The 6-foot-10 Chambers has scored more than 20,000 points in his 15-year NBA career and is the league's 24th all-time scorer. Signed by the Suns as a free agent in August, he has spent the first eight games of the season on the injured list because of a back strain.

Milic, drafted by the 76ers in the second round this year, spent the first nine games of the season on the injured list because of a lower back strain. The 6-6 Slovenian led Smelt Olympija to the EuroLeague final four last year, averaging a team-leading 16.9 points and six rebounds.

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