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NBA NOTES

Riley Apologizes After Stern Lecture

May 20, 1998|From Associated Press

Pat Riley is sorry he accused his former assistant of teaching dirty play.

The Miami Heat coach also apologized for saying he wished his center Alonzo Mourning had landed a punch to the face of Larry Johnson of the New York Knicks during their NBA first-round playoff series.

"What I said was wrong," Riley said Tuesday in a telephone conference call from New York. "I shouldn't have said that."

Riley's apology came after he and New York Coach Jeff Van Gundy were summoned into the NBA commissioner's office for separate meetings Tuesday to discuss postseason fights between Heat and Knicks players over the past two years.

The two coaches were let off with only a lecture.

"We discussed with both Pat and Jeff the responsibility of players and coaches in this league to set a positive example for all those who follow our game," Commissioner David Stern said Tuesday in a statement.

"I believe each of them appreciates that we are committed to eliminating violence in the NBA and that they are expected to be and should be part of the solution."

The Knicks won the best-of-five series, after Johnson and Chris Mills were suspended for the final game, along with Miami's Mourning. Johnson and Mourning were suspended for two games for throwing punches at the end of Game 4, while Mills was suspended for one game for leaving the bench area.

"Next year we'll sit down and talk," Riley said. "It's going to be about professionalism. The point is, let's get rid of the extra-curricular crap and win games."

In the 1997 playoffs, the Heat and Knicks brawled and five New York players--including Johnson--were suspended over the last two games of the series.

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Billy King was promoted to general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. He had been vice president of basketball administration. . . . Houston Rocket guard Matt Maloney had surgery to remove damaged cartilage in his right elbow. . . . Former NBA referee Donald Vaden of Lynch Station, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false income tax return by trading in first-class plane tickets for coach fare, pocketing the difference and not reporting it on his taxes.

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