“I wasn’t choking P.J. that hard. I mean, he could breathe.”

“I wasn’t choking P.J. that hard. I mean, he could breathe.”

Latrell Sprewell’s most famous quote is the one he gave after refusing a $21 million extension from the Timberwolves. “I got kids to feed.” Sprewell had made around $100 million at that point in his career, but the extra 21 mil wasn’t enough for him to feed his family. This episode marked his NBA career, which is an achievement given the fact that Sprewell almost choked out his coach and explained it like this.

“I wasn’t choking P.J. that hard. I mean, he could breathe.”

Latrell Sprewell, 60 Minutes

December 1st, 1997. The Warriors were practicing, and coach P.J. Carlesimo wasn’t happy with Sprewell’s effort. He started calling him out for his passing, telling him to “put some mustard on it.” Carlesimo started walking towards Sprewell as a back and forth was evolving. Other players and coaches didn’t think much of it as this isn’t so unusual at practices. The next thing that happened wasn’t so usual.

Sprewell snapped and grabbed Carlesimo by the throat and started choking him. It took other players and coaches about 10 seconds to run over and separate the two. Sprewell went to the locker room, showered, and got dressed. But, he didn’t get into his car and went home. Instead, Sprewell came back to the court and assaulted Carlesimo again, hitting him in the face.

At first, Sprewell was handed a 10-day suspension. But as the story and the outrage grew, more severe punishment was handed out. Two days after the incident, the Warriors voided his three-year, $23.7 million contracts, and the NBA announced they were suspending him for one year. Sprewell apologized for his behavior but felt the punishment was too severe and started a legal case. He even got Johnny Cochran as a consultant.

He managed to prove his case, and his contract was reinstated. The following season was a lockout year, so Sprewell never returned to Oakland. He was traded to the New York Knicks, where he managed to rehabilitate his reputation.

That is, until 2002, when he showed up to training camp with a broken hand. He told the Knicks he’d broken it when he took a spill on his yacht, but the New York Post reported he’d been in a fistfight. The Knicks fined Sprewell and traded him at season’s end to the Timberwolves. That leads us to the famous quote from the beginning of the story.

“I have a family to feed … If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money.”

Latrell Sprewell, SF Gate

Sprewell played one more year for Minnesota without the contract extension and performed miserably. Still thinking higher of himself than the teams or coaches he negotiated with, he was never again able to agree on a salary and has not played professional ball since.