Latrell Fontaine Sprewell (born September 8, 1970) is an American
former professional basketball player; he played for the Golden State
Warriors, the New York Knicks, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. During
his time as a professional, Sprewell was named to the yearly NBA
All-Star game four times; he also helped the Knicks reach the NBA
Finals and the Timberwolves the Western Conference finals. Despite his
accomplishments, his career was overshadowed by a 1997 incident in
which he choked coach
P. J. Carlesimo during a practice, which
ultimately resulted in a 68-game suspension.
Sprewell's career came to an unexpected end in 2005 when he refused a
$21-million three-year contract offer from the Timberwolves, which
Sprewell implied would not be enough to feed his children. The
Timberwolves offered him nothing more. Since that time, he has made
headlines for grounding his million-dollar yacht and subsequently
having it repossessed for missed payments, having two of his homes
foreclosed upon, and being prohibited from seeing his children.
1 NBA career
1.1 Golden State Warriors
1.1.1 1997 choking incident
1.2 New York Knicks
1.3 Minnesota Timberwolves
2 NBA career statistics
2.1 Regular season
3 Personal life
4 See also
6 External links
Golden State Warriors
After attending Washington High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
Sprewell played competitively with the Three Rivers Community College
Basketball Team in
Poplar Bluff, Missouri
Poplar Bluff, Missouri from 1988–1990,
and from 1990–1992 with the University of Alabama, where he was a
teammate of future NBA players Robert Horry,
Jason Caffey and James
He was selected 24th overall in the 1992
NBA draft by the Golden State
Warriors. Sprewell, nicknamed "Spree", made an immediate impact,
starting 69 of the 77 games he played in during his rookie season and
averaging 15.4 points per game. His performance would improve over the
next few years, leading the team in scoring and playing for the
Western Conference All-Star team in 1994, 1995, and 1997, scoring 24.2
ppg in 1996–97, fifth in the league. Additionally, in 1993–1994 he
led the league in games played and minutes per game as the Warriors,
led by Sprewell and NBA Rookie of the year power forward Chris Webber,
made it back to the playoffs. They would, however, lose in the first
round to the Phoenix Suns in three games.
1997 choking incident
Though a four-time All-Star, a significant blemish on Sprewell's
career was an incident that took place on December 1, 1997, when he
attacked head coach
P. J. Carlesimo during a Warriors practice. When
Carlesimo yelled at Sprewell to make crisper passes (specifically
asking him to "put a little mustard" on a pass), Sprewell responded
that he was not in the mood for criticism and told the coach to keep
his distance. When Carlesimo approached, Sprewell threatened to kill
him and dragged him backwards by his throat, choking him for 7–10
seconds before his teammates and assistant coaches pulled Sprewell off
his coach. Sprewell returned about 20 minutes later after showering
and changing and again accosted Carlesimo. He landed a glancing blow
at Carlesimo's right cheek before being dragged away again by the
assistant coaches. It was not his first violent incident with the
Warriors; in 1995, Sprewell fought with teammate
Jerome Kersey and
returned to practice carrying a two-by-four, and reportedly threatened
to return with a gun. In a 1993 practice, Sprewell fought with
Byron Houston, who was 50 pounds heavier than Sprewell and had what
many teammates describe as having a Mike Tyson-like demeanor and
Sprewell was suspended for 10 games without pay. However, the next
day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder
of his contract altogether, which included $23.7 million over three
years, and the NBA suspended him for one year. Sprewell took the case
to arbitration and the contract voiding was overturned, but the league
did suspend him for the rest of the season without pay, which amounted
to 68 games. He sought to vacate the arbitration contract under the
terms of the collective bargaining agreement. His case went through
all appeals, and was remanded. During the time he was serving his
suspension from the NBA, Sprewell was charged with reckless driving
for his role in a 90-mile-per-hour accident that injured two people.
He spent three months under house arrest as part of a no-contest
New York Knicks
Due to the NBA lockout, Sprewell did not play again until February
1999, after the Warriors traded him to the
New York Knicks
New York Knicks for John
Starks, Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. Sprewell played 37 games for
the Knicks that season; playing off the bench in all but four games.
Many pundits felt that signing the volatile Sprewell was too big a
gamble for the Knicks to take, but Sprewell himself vowed that he was
a changed man. The Knicks, who at the time still revolved around
veteran All-Star center Patrick Ewing, narrowly qualified for the 1999
playoffs, making the field as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Knicks navigated past the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks and finally
the Indiana Pacers and made it as an eighth seed to the 1999 NBA
Finals, where they met the San Antonio Spurs. The Knicks lost to the
Spurs in 5 games in the Finals, though Sprewell enjoyed a good series
for the most part, averaging 26.0 ppg. He tallied 35 points and
grabbed 10 rebounds in the Knicks' 78-77 Game 5 loss. He was featured
on the cover of the September 1999 issue of SLAM Magazine.
Sprewell moved into the Knicks starting line up for the 1999–2000
season at small forward, and averaged 18.6 points, helping the Knicks
to a 50-32 record good enough for the third seed in the Eastern
Conference. The Knicks now led by Sprewell, Ewing and shooting guard
Allan Houston qualified for the 2000 playoffs, making the field as the
3rd seed in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks navigated past the
Toronto Raptors in three hard-fought games and the Miami Heat in seven
tough hard-fought games in the first two rounds of the playoffs, en
route to making it to the Eastern Conference Finals where they met the
Indiana Pacers. But the Knicks quest to make it back-to-back NBA
Finals appearances came to an end when they were defeated by the
Pacers in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Sprewell averaged
19.7 ppg in the series. The Knicks gave him a five-year/$62 million
The 2000–01 season saw Sprewell step up as the Knicks leader with
Ewing traded to the Seattle SuperSonics, thus making his only All-Star
appearance for the Knicks that year, scoring 17.7 points off the
bench. However, despite another impressive season from Sprewell the
Knicks would lose in the first round to the Toronto Raptors in five
games of the 2001 playoffs. In 2001–02, Sprewell averaged 19.4 ppg,
including 49 points in a game against the Boston Celtics, one of three
times he scored 40 or more points that season; however, it was not
enough as the Knicks would miss the playoffs for the first time in 15
Prior to the 2002–03 season, Sprewell reported to training camp with
a broken hand, which he claimed occurred when he slipped on his yacht;
the Knicks fined him a record $250,000 for failing to report the
incident to them. Sprewell sued the New York Post for claiming that he
broke his hand in a fight. Sprewell ultimately lost the lawsuit
against the New York Post.
That season, Sprewell made NBA history as he connected 9 of 9 from the
three-point arc, making the most three pointers without a single miss
en route to a season-high 38 points versus the Los Angeles Clippers.
The record has since been tied by then-
Chicago Bulls guard Ben Gordon
and broken by Nuggets guard Ty Lawson, who made 10 threes without
missing in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the season
in which the Knicks missed the playoffs for the second year in a row,
Sprewell was traded to the
Minnesota Timberwolves in a four-team trade
involving Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, and Terrell Brandon.
In the 2003–04 season, Sprewell became part of the league's
highest-scoring trio, alongside superstar power forward Kevin Garnett
and point guard Sam Cassell. With a 58-24 record, the Timberwolves
qualified for the 2004 playoffs, making the field as the first seed in
the Western Conference. They navigated past the Denver Nuggets in five
games and Sacramento Kings in seven games in the first two rounds of
the playoffs. In the Western Conference Finals they met the Los
Angeles Lakers. Here their playoff run came to an end when they were
defeated by the Lakers in 6 games. This remains the only appearance by
the Timberwolves in the conference finals. Sprewell finished second in
team scoring, pacing at 19.9 ppg behind Garnett's 24.0 ppg.
On October 31, 2004, the
Minnesota Timberwolves offered Sprewell a
3-year, $21 million contract extension, substantially less than what
his then-current contract paid him. Claiming to feel insulted by the
offer, he publicly expressed outrage, declaring, "I have a family to
feed ... If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up
some money. Otherwise, you're going to see these kids in one of those
Sally Struthers commercials soon." He declined the extension and
the Timberwolves offered him nothing more. Having once more drawn the
ire of fans and sports media, Sprewell had the worst season of his
career in the final year of his contract. In the summer of 2005, the
Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Houston Rockets all expressed
interest in signing Sprewell, but none of the teams signed him.
One month into the 2005–06 season and without a contract, Sprewell's
agent, Bob Gist, said his client would rather retire than play for the
NBA minimum salary, telling Sports Illustrated, "Latrell doesn't need
the money that badly. To go from being offered $7 million to taking $1
million, that would be a slap in the face." Several days later, Gist
said that Sprewell planned to wait until "teams get desperate" around
the trade deadline in February, and then sign with a contending team
-an eventuality that never materialized for Sprewell. Gist said that
Sprewell would not be interested in signing for any team's $5 million
mid-level exception, calling that amount "a level beneath which
[Sprewell] would not stoop or kneel!"
In March 2006, Sprewell was offered contracts by the Dallas Mavericks
and San Antonio Spurs, both of whom were considered at the time to be
strong favorites to win the NBA Championship, but Sprewell failed to
respond and remained a free agent as the season came to a close. There
was also minimal interest in Sprewell by the Los Angeles Lakers at the
beginning of the 2005–06 season but nothing ever came of it.
Over the course of his career, Sprewell started 868 of 913 games he
played in, averaging 18.8 ppg, 4.2 apg and 4.1 rpg with playoff career
averages of 19.7 ppg, 3.4 apg and 4.3 rpg. Sprewell was named to the
All-NBA First Team
All-NBA First Team at the end of his second season, and to the All-NBA
Defensive second team that same year.
NBA career statistics
Minutes per game
Field goal percentage
3-point field goal percentage
Free throw percentage
Rebounds per game
Assists per game
Steals per game
Blocks per game
Points per game
Led the league
Sprewell's personal life since he last played in the NBA has been
plagued with controversy and financial trouble. In 1994, Sprewell's
four-year-old daughter was attacked by his pet pit bull, suffering
bites to her nose, lips, forehead, and ear. She required surgery.
At junior college, Sprewell was arrested for stealing. In 2016,
Sprewell appeared in a Priceline.com television advertisement, poking
fun at himself.
On August 30, 2006,
Milwaukee police investigated a claim by a
21-year-old female who claimed that she and Sprewell were having
consensual sex aboard his 70-foot (21 m) yacht, named
"Milwaukee's Best", when Sprewell began to strangle her. Police
allegedly observed red marks on the woman's neck. Police investigating
the allegation searched Sprewell's yacht for evidence. On September
6, 2006, police indicated that he would not face any charges from the
alleged incident. Sprewell sought a restraining order against the
woman along with "civil remedies" against the accuser.
On January 31, 2007, Sprewell's long term companion sued him for $200
million for ending their relationship agreement. She claimed Sprewell
agreed to support her and their four children while they were in
On August 22, 2007, it was reported by multiple news agencies that
Sprewell's yacht was repossessed by federal marshals after Sprewell
failed to maintain payments and insurance for the vessel, for which he
reportedly still owed approximately $1.3 million. In addition,
while piloted by Sprewell, the yacht ran ashore near Atwater Beach,
just north of Milwaukee. Sprewell refused to contract with a
professional salvage firm to remove the yacht. The yacht was
eventually freed with the help of a local fishing vessel.
In February 2008, Sprewell's yacht was auctioned for $856,000 after he
defaulted on a $1.5 million mortgage, and in May 2008, a Milwaukee
area home owned by Sprewell went into foreclosure status. Between
September 2007 and January 2008, documents revealed that Sprewell
failed to make his mortgage payments of $2,593 per month. In July
2009, a Westchester mansion owned by Sprewell went into foreclosure
status. That action was dismissed on motion of another party's
attorney, Roger K. Marion.
List of National
Basketball Association annual minutes leaders
^ a b c Ostler, Scott (August 23, 2007). "Captain Spree should remain
a landlubber". The San Francisco Chronicle.
^ "Report: Sonics set to make Spurs assistant Carlesimo coach".
CBSSports.com. July 3, 2007. Archived from the original on December
^ a b c d ESPN Classic - Sprewell's Image Remains in a Chokehold
^ "Video". CNN. December 15, 1997.
^ AP, March 18, 1998; AP, July 28, 1998
^ "Sprewell can't save Knicks". Associated Press. February 6, 1999.
^ Bob Purvis and Charles Gardner (August 30, 2006). "Sprewell
questioned in alleged assault".
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
^ Bob Purvis (September 6, 2006). "No charges against Sprewell".
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
^ "U.S. marshal seizes Sprewell's $1.5M yacht". msnbc.com. August 22,
^ Erin Richards (August 10, 2006). "Sprewell's yacht freed". Milwaukee
^ David Doege (February 8, 2008). "Sprewell yacht sold at auction".
The Business Journal of Milwaukee.
^ Marie Rohde (May 12, 2008). "Latrell Sprewell's home foreclosed".
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
^ "Ex-NBA star
Latrell Sprewell $1.5 million yacht, home could be
foreclosed". ESPN NBA. Associated Press. February 11, 2008.
^ a b Westchester Supreme Court Index No. 09-16447
Sprewell Bio at NBA.com
Latrell Sprewell at Basketball-Reference.com
#1 Hoops Feud of All Time
Latrell Sprewell: The American Dream
1992 NBA draft
P. J. Brown