Howard apologizes after DWI arrest Bullets All-Star due in court Dec. 6

November 12, 1996|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,SUN STAFF

BOWIE -- His reputation with the Washington Bullets has been nearly perfect, which is part of the reason the team gave him a contract worth more than $100 million. But yesterday, an embarrassed Juwan Howard found himself having to say he was sorry.

Howard was apologizing after his arrest in Washington on a charge of drunken driving. The Bullets' All-Star forward was arrested at 3: 45 a.m. yesterday after his 1995 Mercedes was spotted speeding on a street in Northwest Washington.

Howard, who had attended a party at a Northwest Washington club, failed a sobriety test and was charged with driving while intoxicated a short time later. After his arrest, he was taken to the traffic division on New York Avenue, where friends, including teammate Chris Webber, came to pick him up. Howard was released on his own recognizance, and a court hearing on the charge is scheduled for Dec. 6.

"First of all, I want to apologize to everyone that supports me in any kind of way," Howard said in a brief statement after practice. "This is truly an embarrassment for me, personally, and also for the Bullets organization.

"I understand we all have to follow rules and regulations, and I don't ever want for this to happen again. I'm going to continue to be myself and to let everyone know that I'm not perfect."

And with that, Howard, facing the biggest media group since the announcement he had re-signed with the Bullets as a free agent, got up and left the table set up for him. He refused to answer any questions about the incident.

Howard's arrest was a surprise, considering his reputation. His only other known off-the-court problem was a paternity suit filed in May by a Detroit-area woman who claimed Howard is the father of her 4 1/2 -year-old son. Howard has denied the allegation.

Howard is best known off the court for his Juwan Howard Foundation, which helps underprivileged youth in the Washington area. He also is the NBA's spokesman for Reading Is Fundamental.

"I feel badly for Juwan, because in no way does this portray who this fellow is," coach Jim Lynam said. "From a personal point of view, it's a very unfortunate incident. It's an eye opener and food for thought for all of us."

Bullets general manager Wes Unseld, who was awakened with the news of Howard's arrest at 4: 45 a.m., said the team plans no disciplinary action.

"You could look at this as a young man, 23 years old, who made a mistake," Unseld said. "We're grateful that no one was hurt and that Juwan wasn't hurt. We want him to understand the ramifications of what he did. And I think that he does."

Webber, who was with Howard earlier in the evening, described the incident as "just unfortunate."

"That's my man," Webber said. "I love him and I'm with him to the end. He knows that."

Newly acquired guard Rod Strickland said: "I don't know what else to say, other than things happen. There are no perfect people out here."

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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