This is what America has come to — the leading political figure of a major American city defends a young man who has attacked a middle-aged man, simply because the young man is a rich and famous athlete — and the person attacked is white while the attacker is black.

The quote above is San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s reaction to basketball star Latrell Sprewell’s attack upon his coach during a practice session. Sprewell is the star player for the National Basketball Association’s Golden State Warriors.

Ahhh…if only we could get away with choking politicians.

We never would have dreamed, even in our worst nightmare, that the day would come when the political establishment would defend a professional athlete who had assaulted their coach. That day is here.

You might think that politicians would frown upon role models such as pro athletes attacking authority figures like coaches. After all, do we really want to encourage students to attack their teachers in public schools?

Warriors star Latrell Sprewell attacked coach P.J. Carlesimo not once, but twice, and threatened to KILL him — not an idle threat given the violence of the attacks. The 27-year-old player, who stands six-feet five-inches tall, attacked the 48-year-old coach, choking him until teammates pulled him off. Sprewell then left the practice floor, returned, fought his way through others to get at the coach, tried to punch the coach, and issued a death threat.

Sprewell is clearly guilty of assault and battery, at the very least. If you or I assault someone we get to visit court, and possibly the inside of a jail cell. But coach Carlesimo never even considered calling the cops or pressing charges.

The NBA and the Warriors did, however, suspend Sprewell for one year, without pay. “This is no issue to compromise,” Warriors General Manager Garry St. Jean said. “Outrageous behavior by players in professional sports has been tolerated for too long. We are drawing the line. Some things are more important than winning or losing games.”

NBA Commissioner David Stern said, “A sports league does not have to tolerate behavior that would not be tolerated in any other segment of society.”

Sprewell isn’t going to jail, he isn’t being sued, and he has not even been banned for life from professional basketball. But from the comments of his defenders you would think he was facing the firing squad.

Not only has Mayor Willie Brown explicitly defended the use of violence by Sprewell, he has also called for Jesse Jackson and the NAACP to investigate the incident — as if the multimillionaire player is the victim, rather than the admitted attacker. Sprewell has admitted to repeated assaults on a coach who is much weaker, older, and smaller — not to mention poorer — than the attacker. But because the attacker is black and the victim is white, Brown thinks Sprewell is a “victim.”

(Then again, what would you think of a mayor who has as his official e-mail address “DaMayor.” We’re NOT joking — see below.)

Willie Brown was not the only one to make wildly absurd comments regarding the Sprewell incident.

  • Billy Hunter, Executive Director of the NBA Players Association, says the Union does not want a precedent to be set and will fight the suspension in court. In other words, players have a right to assault their coaches and threaten to kill them. “To strip a player of his ability to pursue his livelihood for a full year based on an isolated incident is excessive and unreasonable punishment.”

ISOLATED incident?  Does that mean Sprewell would have to attack and threaten to kill a number of people over time before he could be suspended? Was that why O.J. walked away from knifing two people to death, because it was an “isolated incident?” How many times does an athlete have to rape, murder, or assault before he/she gets punished?

  • Warriors guard Muggsy Bogues condemned the one-year suspension as too harsh. Bogues feels sorry for Sprewell: “You’ve got a guy out on the street with no source of income.” Sprewell makes $7.7 million a year for playing hoop two hours a night during the season. Sprewell has played in the NBA for several years, and is already a multi-millionaire — we doubt his family will go hungry, especially since he can make millions more if he returns to the league next year. But Bogues’ comment is typical of pro athletes — since they’ve never had to do real work their idea of hardship is to make less than a few million every year.
  • Reverend Amos Brown, a black member of the County Board of Supervisors also thinks Sprewell was treated harshly: “It was unconscionable that he got this kind of severe punishment…we have been used as fodder for the entertainment world. People have made money off us…and yet they expect a player to be subjected to the hostile, abusive approach of this coach. He got what he was asking for.”

What?! FODDER? The good Reverend not only condones violence, but also makes pro athletes seem like exploited victims. In addition to his endorsement contract with Converse, Sprewell had a four-year contract worth $32 million. Of course that’s peanuts compared to the income of some other exploited black athletes and entertainers like Tiger Woods, Michael Jordon, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Cosby. Meanwhile, the world’s largest entertainment company, Time-Warner, has never shown a profit since it was established by merger in 1989. (Time-Warner currently also has outstanding debt of $18 billion — and you thought you owed a lot!)

Not all San Franciscan politicos are Sprewell supporters. Another black County Supervisor, Mary King, disagreed with the Reverend Brown. “I can’t buy that — I don’t think anybody deserves to be choked. Violence is not OK in politics. It’s not OK in sports, and it’s not OK in our dealings on the street…it’s really unfortunate that it would get political.”

Who is this $32 million man whom politicians are rushing to defend? What kind of model citizen and bastion of virtue is he? Well, he laughs uncontrollably during games and calls his coach profane names (Nov. 9), ignores the coach when he tries to issue instructions (Nov. 11), and misses team meeting deadlines (Nov. 28). Of course that’s just November — maybe he was having a bad month. All the same, we kinda wonder why it wasn’t the coach who attacked the player, rather than vice-versa.

More seriously, Sprewell has a history of legal skirmishes including being arrested on driving violations, resisting arrest, and driving on a suspended license. On one occasion he also threatened the arresting officer, David Fukado, and barraged the latter with racial slurs.

Sprewell, who has not apologized to the coach, seems unconcerned about the whole incident. “Basketball didn’t make me what I am,” he said after the suspension was announced. And he’s right — it was you, sports fans, who made Sprewell the gentleman and scholar he is today. By idolizing, adoring, and paying to watch Sprewell take it to the hoop you have made him, and athletes like him, the wealthy heroes of our time.

If you would like to contact San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and let him know what you think of his defense of the Sprewell assault you can reach him by email. The address is: DaMayor@ci.sf.ca.us. (This is really his address — we’re not joking!)

Or you can call Mayor Brown at (415) 554-6141 or (415) 474-6567. The mayor’s fax is (415) 554-6113. If that’s busy, try (415) 554-6160.

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  1. The number #1 mistake was the
    coach not filing charges. In
    effect, he let Sprewell go.
    Maybe he didn’t want to get
    caught up in a race-card type
    of lawsuit, but some things
    are too important to ignore.
    The NBA was also to blame for
    not “firing” him. It seems that
    no one had the balls to do the
    right thing!
    I also agree with the others
    who insisted on boycotting this
    crap we call sports in this
    country. It all starts at the
    college level, where we place
    physical ability higher than
    educational ability. It’s all
    about the $$$ in this capitalistic
    embarrasment of a country.
    Get rid of televised college
    sports and that will eventually
    effect sports on a professional

    Time: 7/6/98 (14:18:25)


    Time: 5/20/98 (9:22:16)

    I heard on the news the other day that Sprewell was “a man with no means of support”. How can that be? Did he not have any money left from what he had already been paid? This has got to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. If an average everyday person choked his boss and threatened to kill him, no lawyer in the world would defend them to help them get their job back. Well, maybe there are some who don’t care about what is right and just want to make a buck and a name for themselves. If damayor had lost the case would sprewell have choked him and threatened to kill him? The coach should have filed a lawsuit against sprewell for assault and collected millions then maybe he could play basketball for FREE! Did he ever go to jail on this issue?

    Time: 4/24/98 (2:27:59)


    Time: 12/12/97 (9:7:21)

    If Washington DC, (aka District of Corruption) elects their Mayor on his crack-using abilities, then DaMayor Brown should have no problem getting reelected on his abilities to support felons. This will save the honest Klintons the extra work of forcing the INS to register thousands more of illegal alien voters, without background checks, just to keep their Liberal friends in power. With “public leaders” like these, who needs enemies. Sic transit gloria mundi.

    Time: 12/8/97 (19:26:34)

    I don’t care if a person is black, white, purple, or green, If they attack their coach or anyone else, they need to be hauled to court to explain their actions. Just because sprewell is an athlete, doesn’t excuse him from abiding by the law. Mayors such as Brown give crime a boost because they themselves don’t want laws enforced, unless the law goes along with their agenda. As far as Sprewell not getting paid for a year being “unfair” and “how can he live” well duh! I wish I made 7.5 million for one year. You can bet I’d be set for life. All these bleeding hearts need to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s behavior such as Sprewell’s that is tearing this country apart.

    Time: 12/8/97 (18:18:24)

    I find it interesting that you can choke your coach and threaten to kill him in front of witnesses and a mayor comes to your defense! If he did the same thing to his wife, with as many witnesses, he would have been run out of town after he bailed himself out! or does that only apply to baseball?

    Time: 12/8/97 (14:56:22)

    Did I miss something about this story? Shouldn’t Sprewell be, you know, in jail or something? Or is a basketball court analogous to a foreign embassy, where the laws of the nation don’t apply in the same manner? Sprewell actually has a pretty good argument here: If he hasn’t even been accused of a crime…

    Time: 12/8/97 (13:3:2)

    “…coaches are sanctimonious, hypocritical, obnoxious jerks…every player who ever lived wanted to strangle at least one…”

    The key phrase here is WANTED TO. I don’t think it’s illegal to entertain THOUGHTS about choking your coach, or boss, or spouse, or family member, or friend, or landlord.

    DOING it is a different story altogether.

    You CAN’T. If you do, it’s called ASSAULT AND BATTERY. And even if the person you assault doesn’t press charges, that does NOT mean a civil suit CAN’T be filed against you.

    Why Latrine [sic] Sprewell hasn’t been arrested and indicted is beyond me.

    Oh..wait…he’s a professional athlete. Never mind…

    Time: 12/8/97 (11:37:7)

    What I find most surprising is that anyone expected anything else out of Willy Brown. After all, this is the same Willy Brown that for some unknown reason California voters have tolerated for years. Wake up voters!

    Time: 12/8/97 (9:34:44)

    coaches are sanctimonious, hypocritical, obnoxious jerks…………….every player who ever lived wanted to strangle at least one

    Time: 12/8/97 (2:6:2)

    Well, I’m confused. If Coach Carlesimo’s alleged aggressive and abusive coaching style (see Catherine’s comment below)is so provocative, then why did not the entire team jump on the Coach and rend the flesh from his bones like a pack of crazed hyenas downing a gemsbok? No, it was only Sprewell who was provoked.

    This is really scary stuff. If he can be provoked to assault and battery by a set of words or behaviors, and we cannot know in advance just what words and behaviors will set him off on another rampage, then I submit that this is all the more reason to lock up this sociopath.

    If I were his postman or a Girl Scout selling cookies or some unwitting Seventh Day Adventist innocently knocking on his door on a Saturday morning, then I would have to be very, very afraid. This has nothing to do with race; it has everything to do with pampered, overpaid and overindulged prima donas who lack the degree of self control that the rest of us have to maintain to coexist in society.

    Time: 12/8/97 (1:46:33)


    you have got to be kidding. So next time my boss gets ticked off at me, I guess instead of doing what he asks me to do or to look for another job, I’ll just go in his office and kick his a** and tell him I’ll kill him if he ever does it again.

    Afterwards, if he fires me, I’ll sue him for ruining my livelihood by making me look bad when I apply for another job. Heck, why didn’t I think of that sooner? Come to think of it, I should ask for a raise now, so that if I do need to choke the living daylights out of someone, I have some money saved up when I get fired.

    If Sprewell does not like the treatment he gets from his coach, he has the same option any of the rest of us do in that situation: 1. He could look for another job. 2. He could complain to someone about his boss (ie. file a grievance with the league). 3. Do anything other than trying to kill the coach! Duh!

    I realize that we live in America and not a civilized country, but this is getting ridiculous. I hope that all appeals fall short and everyone finally learns that these overpaid thugs (or anyone else for that matter) should not get away with (almost) murder.

    Time: 12/8/97 (0:22:49)

    Does this surprise anyone? Look at Michael Irvin… If 99.9% of us were in that situation, we would have been cuffed and stuffed. Who says money and fame don’t buy justice. Once again… in the land of the free, are we?

    Time: 12/7/97 (23:9:19)

    The coach should not be allowed to use the language he uses towards the players either. He doesn’t know how to coach a pro team.

    To ruin Sprewell’s career is an OUTRAGE. If the coach is so little & old, maybe he should find another job. A black basketball player did not attack a white coach. A basketball player was provoked by an agressive, abusive so called team leader.

    Time: 12/7/97 (19:50:6)

    Now here is an outrage that I have been dealing with all of my life; really. I have an extremely effective response to this sort of thing. I encourage all of America to join me as well. My solution? Simple, easy, and effective. If we all do it together.

    Let’s just boycott sports…period. I’ve done it for the past 40 years…no sweat. If we don’t watch sports then we aren’t watching advertisements. If we ain’t watchin ads then we ain’t buying. If we ain’t buying then vendors won’t buy ads.

    If vendors don’t buy ads then s**s like Sprewell will be out of a job. Let the bum get a real job. I doubt it though. If he isn’t shooting hoops he’s most likely be shooting a 9 mm at my grandmother.

    Time: 12/7/97 (18:50:34)

    Sprewell is nothein but a spoiled brat who has yet to gow up. His being a million dollar baby, no doubt, gives him the feeling of trancendence over and above common sense and good sportsmanship. And some are already playing the race card.

    As far as I’m concerned, he should be suspended for life. If basketball is all he’s got going for him, he had better take heed.

    Time: 12/7/97 (17:44:1)

    Anyone who has spent any time in the Bay Area shouldn’t be too surprised at anything this “gentleman” says. Personally, as soon as the story broke, I knew that “Wool-Eye” and others of his ilk would pull out the race card.

    What if it had been Christian Lehtner (white center in Atlanta) doing the same to his coach, Lenny Wilkens, who, last time I looked, is black???

    Time: 12/7/97 (12:47:14)

    I believe DaComments about DaAttack by DaPlayer on DaCoach from DaMayor were some of DaMost stupid comments that I have ever heard comming from a politician, but looking back on DaMayor’s past actions, I would expect nothing else.

  2. i dont condem the sprewell incident but find it amusing how when linebacker kevin greene (a white guy) violently chokes an assistant coach during a game and is caught on tape, that no one seems to have such OUTRAGE. it only happened a year after sprewell’s choking. everyone hates spre but good ol’ kev greene is still beloved. hmmmm…..

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