It still felt like jail
Barring the stigma of the infamous choking incident with his former Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo, Sprewell was a talented player. Even during his time with the Warriors, Spree was already a productive shooting guard/small forward.
However, it was with the Knicks that he became a part of something historic: New York’s 1999 NBA championship run. But while Sprewell was fortunate enough to be included in the Knicks team that rallied to the Finals as an eight-seeded team that year, he wasn’t that lucky off the court.
For one, Spree’s daughter was mauled by their dog in 1993, resulting in serious damage to the child’s ear. On top of that, Sprewell also had a couple of run-ins with the law, and one saw him being under house arrest for three months.
It happened in 1998 when Sprewell injured a couple in a car accident in California. The four-time NBA All-Star could have been sentenced to six months in jail, but it was reduced to three months of home detention after he pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge.
Technically, Sprewell didn’t serve time behind bars, but the agony was the same.
“It’s been hard. I never said it was easy,” Sprewell told The New York Post in 1999. “But like I said, when you look back on all the things that you’ve been through, especially the more difficult times in life, you just begin to say, ‘Hey if I made it through that, you know, I can handle whatever.’ And I’m gonna keep my head up. Nothin’ has been worse than that incident up to this point in my life besides what I went through with my daughter – so I think I’m OK.”
A totally different person
Due to his publicized troubles, and the bad reputation he earned in the NBA, Sprewell was aware of how most people viewed him. But no matter how negative his image had been, Spree said he slept soundly at night, knowing he wasn’t the bad guy they thought he was.
“I don’t have that problem and that’s one of the misconceptions about me is that I have this attitude problem,” Spree said in the same interview. “And I tried to explain to people that I don’t have that problem. I’m a totally different person off the court.”
Despite everything that was going on off the court that year, Sprewell managed to keep his game stable. In fact, he even spent the next four seasons with the Knicks as a consistent performer before having another remarkable run with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the final two years of his career.