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Pro Basketball | CLIPPER REPORT

Olowokandi Is Unapologetic

April 07, 2002|Elliott Teaford

Center Michael Olowokandi did not apologize Saturday for making the comments about his contract situation that resulted in a $50,000 fine Friday from General Manager Elgin Baylor. But he said his comments were not directed at Baylor, but at owner Donald T. Sterling and Executive Vice President Andy Roeser.

Olowokandi also called the fine "excessive."

"Maybe it's a gag order," he said.

Olowokandi said he spoke out Wednesday to express the concerns of his teammates, who have been reluctant to do so publicly.

"What I said I don't think is false," he said Saturday. "It wasn't a personal attack on [Baylor]. I was basically voicing the opinions of my teammates. I'm trying to aid our team. It was said my comments were detrimental to the team. Maybe they were detrimental to management. I felt it was my place to say something."

Among other things, Olowokandi said after the Clippers' loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday: "We didn't play well together. Whenever you have a group of guys that are very uncertain of their futures on the team that will always happen. Whenever you have that situation, you will never have a basketball team. Not this year, not next year, not 10 years from now.

"Things are very uncertain with the future of this team. It's starting to affect the way we play the game."

Olowokandi is eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer and point guard Jeff McInnis is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent. Several other players, including power forward Elton Brand, are eligible for long-term contract extensions.

Olowokandi's negotiations are viewed by many as a test case to see how seriously the formerly woebegone franchise is committed to continuing to build a winning team. He said Saturday he would like to remain a Clipper.

Said Coach Alvin Gentry of Olowokandi: "Michael is an integral part of our future. Of course we want him here. I just know how we all feel. There's never been a doubt that we want Michael here."

At the same time, Gentry added, "Obviously, everybody felt it [Olowokandi's comments] was out of line.... I agree with the fine."

Olowokandi said he had not spoken with Baylor as of midday Saturday. He did speak with his agent, Bill Duffy, however.

"One thing my agent said was that maybe I worry too much, that maybe I shouldn't worry about things that are out of my control," he said.

Of making the comments, he added, "Apart from [eight-season veteran Eric] Piatkowski, I've been on the team the longest. I've seen players come and go. We've never really had a team that was capable of making a run for the playoffs until now. We did play selfishly and lackluster [against Utah]. We're not robots. We're not machines. We do think for ourselves.

"One of the things Alvin talked about before practice today was that we've done a lot of good things this season and we can't let it go to waste. But we came so close to the playoffs and it is really, really frustrating."

*

TONIGHT

vs. Denver, 6

Site--Staples Center.

Radio--KXTA (1150).

Records--Clippers 37-39, Nuggets 24-51.

Record vs. Nuggets--2-1.

Update--The Clippers have lost six of seven.

*

Elliott Teaford

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