More misconduct by players stains league's image


January 21, 2001|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

This past week hasn't exactly been a ringing endorsement for the "I Love This Game" slogan the NBA has been trumpeting for so long. To wit, the conduct of Gary Payton, Marcus Camby and Tyrone Nesby heaps more fuel on the smoldering perception that the league is out of control.

Payton, 32, a two-time Olympian, was suspended by new Seattle coach Nate McMillan for having to be separated from teammate Ruben Patterson on the court during a game Wednesday, then popping off in the locker room.

McMillan, who had played with Payton in Seattle, learned quickly as an assistant to his predecessor as coach, Paul Westphal. He watched the six-time All-Star guard undermine Westphal's authority with an on-court tirade that helped push the coach out the door.

Wally Walker, the SuperSonics' general manager, didn't rule out moving "The Glove" before next month's trading deadline, a heretofore unthinkable prospect.

"You don't want to suspend a player and, especially, a guy you ... went to battle with and a guy who you rely on a lot to carry this team," McMillan said. "It was a very tough decision in the sense that I do have feelings for Gary.

"But ... I'm in a different role now. This team is very important. This is my life. Gary will always be a friend, but we are both professionals and have jobs to do."

"This is his [McMillan's] team," said Payton, whose consecutive-games streak ended at 356 with the suspension. "He's trying to set an example for all the other younger guys: `Even if Gary does it, he will get punished, too.' It's no big deal."

In New York, the chuckles may just be coming to an end from the "outrage" the Knicks are expressing over Camby's five-game suspension for throwing a punch at San Antonio forward Danny Ferry on Monday.

For some reason, the Knicks and Camby were expecting NBA discipline chief Stu Jackson to go lighter on the 6-foot-10 forward, who not only attempted a sneak attack on Ferry, who had elbowed Camby in the face, but may have been waiting for the Spurs forward in the bus parking area under Madison Square Garden - on Martin Luther King Day, no less.

The Knicks argued that Camby, whose head collided with that of Jeff Van Gundy on the swing, leaving the Knicks' coach with a 15-stitch gash over his left eye, should have been judged on the effect of his swing, not the intent. Van Gundy even wondered aloud what the punishment would have been if Camby had connected with Ferry. The answer: at least 10 games and probably more, not to mention an assault charge.

And then there's the curious spectacle of Nesby, the Washington Wizards forward who, four minutes into a game Monday, was yanked for indifferent play.

Rather than think of ways to help his team, Nesby jumped ugly with beleaguered coach Leonard Hamilton, who ordered the former Clipper to the locker room. When Nesby refused, Hamilton beckoned for security.

The matter appeared smoothed over until Wednesday, when Hamilton benched Nesby at the start of the New Jersey game, with Nesby claiming the coach had forgotten a promise to let bygones be bygones.

Based on his play to date, which has included chucking up ill-advised shots and running the wrong plays, Nesby should hope that Hamilton forgets a lot more.


The Knicks haven't allowed an opponent to score 100 points in an NBA-record 32 straight games, dating to a 103-101 overtime win over Boston. Who held the record before them? (Hint: The franchise was in a different city than it is today when the mark was set.)

Civic Center flashback

Next month's All-Star Weekend game between the league's top rookies and second-year players will have a distinct Baltimore flavor with the naming of Elvin Hayes, Phil Chenier, Jack Marin and Kevin Loughery as coaches.

The four were mainstays of the old Bullets. Loughery and Marin will coach the rookie team. Hayes and Chenier will coach the sophomore team.

Loughery, a sharp-shooting guard, spent parts of nine seasons in Baltimore, then coached 20 seasons professionally, winning two ABA titles.

Marin was a rugged 6-6 forward whose best season was 1971-72, the last of six years in Baltimore, when he averaged 22.3 points.

Hayes and Chenier played in Baltimore for less time but had dynamic impacts. Hayes, a top 50 all-time NBA player who arrived from Houston for Marin in a 1972 deal, averaged 21.2 points in his lone Baltimore season before the Bullets moved to Landover.

Chenier, now a Wizards television analyst, was a silky-smooth shooting guard who eventually supplanted Loughery in two Baltimore seasons before he went south with the team.

A modest proposal

Philadelphia coach Larry Brown, who will lead the Eastern Conference squad in next month's All-Star Game in Washington, will bring an intriguing idea for jazzing up the game down Interstate 95.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.