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Latrell Fontaine Sprewell (born September 8, 1970 in Milwaukee, Wisconsinmarker) is a former Americanmarker professional basketball player who last played for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2004-05 NBA season. Along with Sam Cassell and Wally Szczerbiak, Sprewell helped Kevin Garnett and the Timberwolves make a run to the West Conference finals in 2003-2004.

A 6'5" (1.96 m) guard/forward, Sprewell is perhaps best known for his fastbreak two-handed tomahawk dunks. He is also known for the infamous incident which involved choking P.J. Carlesimo, his then-coach with the Golden State Warriors. For this action, Sprewell was suspended for 68 games. He was an effective player on the court, making four All-Star teams while assisting the New York Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals following his return to the league.

NBA career

After attending Washington High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsinmarker, Sprewell played competitively with the Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missourimarker from 1988–1990, and from 1990–1992 with the University of Alabamamarker, where he was a teammate of former NBA player Robert Horry.

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.

Over the course of his career, Sprewell has started 868 of 913 games he has 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 at the end of his sophomore season, and to the All-NBA Defensive second team that same year.

During his 2003-2004 season he set the NBA record for three point field attempts without a miss, going 9-9 against the L.A Clippers, which was previously held by Jeff Hornacek with 8-8.

1997 choking incident

Though a four-time All-Star, Sprewell's career has been permanently overshadowed by an incident on December 1, 1997, in which 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 to the ground by his throat, choking him for 10-15 seconds before his teammates pulled Sprewell off his coach. Sprewell returned about 20 minutes later and landed a glancing blow at Carlesimo before being dragged away again. 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.


Sprewell was suspended for 10 days without pay. The next day, in the wake of a public uproar, the Warriors voided the remainder of his contract, which included $23.7 million over three years, and the NBA suspended him from the league for 82 games. Sprewell took the case to arbitration, and, as a result, the contract voiding was overturned and the league suspension was reduced to the remaining 68 games of the season. During his suspension, Sprewell was charged with reckless driving for his role in a 90 mph accident that injured two people, spending three months under house arrest as part of a no-contest plea.


Due to the NBA lockout, Sprewell did not play again until February 1999, after the Warriors traded him to the New York Knicks for John Starks, Chris Mills and Terry Cummings. Sprewell played 37 games for the Knicks that season, all but four off the bench.

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. As soon as Sprewell arrived in the Big Apple, he won the hearts of New York fans with his trademark intensity, quickly becoming one of the most popular players on the Knicks.New York narrowly qualified for the 1999 playoffs, making the field as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. New York shocked the NBA as they navigated past the Miami Heat, Atlanta Hawks, and finally the Indiana Pacers en route to becoming the first eighth seeded team to make it to the NBA Finals, where they met the San Antonio Spurs. They eventually succumbed to the Spurs in 5 games, 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. The Knicks gave him a five-year/$62-million contract extension.


Sprewell made his only All-Star appearance for the Knicks in 2001, scoring 7 points off the bench. 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, prior to the 2002 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.

In 2003, 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 the Detroit Pistons' Ben Gordon). After the season, Sprewell was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a four-team trade involving Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson, and Terrell Brandon.

During that regular season, Sprewell became part of the league's highest-scoring trio, alongside Kevin Garnett and point guard Sam Cassell. Sprewell helped the team earn the first seed in the Western Conference playoffs, but Minnesota's franchise-record playoff run drew to an end when they were defeated by the Lakers in 6 games in the Western 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. Insulted, he publicly vented his outrage, declaring, "I have a family to feed." He declined the extension, and, having once more drawn the ire of fans and sports media, had the worst season of his career in the final year of his contract. In the summer of 2005, the Nuggets, Cavs, and Rockets all expressed interest in signing Latrell Sprewell, however, none of those teams could reach an agreement with Sprewell.

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). 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; however, when contacted by these teams, Sprewell failed to respond with an answer to whether he would sign with them. As a result, the Mavericks and Spurs were no longer pursuing him, and he remained a free agent as the season came to a close. There was also some interest in Sprewell by the Los Angeles Lakers at the beginning of the 2005-2006 season, but a disagreement in the contract offer resulted in a failure to reach a deal.

Post-NBA troubles

Sprewell's personal life since he last played in the NBA has been plagued with controversy and financial trouble.

On August 30, 2006, Milwaukeemarker police investigated a claim by a 21-year-old female who claimed that she and Sprewell were having consensual sex aboard his 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 is seeking 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 claims Sprewell agreed to support her and their four children since they were in college.

On August 22, 2007, it was reported by multiple news agencies that Latrell 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 was run 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.

Others have speculated that Sprewell may have been quietly considering a comeback but has not received an offer for the level of compensation that he feels would be adequate to bring him out of retirement. Furthermore, on December 19, 2006, Troy Hudson, Kevin Garnett and Trenton Hassell met for dinner after which Hudson was quoted as saying that "(Sprewell) looks like he could play 48 minutes right now," and "he just said he's enjoying his time off," which may suggest he is not retired but taking a break from the NBA.

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.He also owes more than $72,000 in unpaid taxes and his company, Sprewell Motorsports, has not paid credit card bills in months.


  1. AP, Mar. 18, 1998; AP, Jul. 28, 1998
  2. "Sprewell can't save Knicks". Associated Press. February 6, 1999.

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