Former Golden State Warriors and New York Knicks star Latrell Sprewell wasn’t the nicest guy in the league during his playing years. However, he once argued that his notorious image ingrained in the NBA fans' perception was far from the real Spree.
When it’s game time, it’s game time
In an intriguing interview with The New York Post in 1999, Sprewell was asked to explain how he managed and balanced his “fearless attitude” on the court that seemingly resonated with his “confrontational” persona off the court.
Surprisingly, Sprewell, whose career was once jeopardized because of an infamous physical altercation with his own coach, said “it’s been easy” for him.
“I’m a totally different person off the court. It’s like when the lights are on, I’m in a different zone. I’m in attack mode. My whole thing is just to win and to do whatever I can to help the team to win. When the lights are on, it’s time to play.”
Latrell Sprewell, The New York Post
It is what it is, but it’s not what you think
Prompted to quiz Spree for a juicier response, the interviewer brought up the incident with a Japanese officer in Oakland, which ended in “a verbal confrontation.”
According to the four-time NBA All-Star, whatever it was that had been written about him on the paper at the time mostly implied “the misconceptions” that he had an “attitude problem.” Sprewell pointed out that, for the record, he doesn’t have issues with anger because if he did, he would’ve had problems with his family for sure.
“If I did, I think I would have had problems with my girl. And things like that, you know,” Sprewell explained. “I’m not whuppin’ my kids or anything. I try to talk to ’em. I don’t have that problem and that’s one of the misconceptions about me is that I have this attitude problem. And I tried to explain to people that I don’t have that problem. I’m a totally different person off the court.”
Spree related it to basketball again and stressed that even though he often picks a fight on the court, he’s “a totally different person away from the game.”
“That’s not the way I am. Just because I play that way,” he continued. “There have been times when I’ve been upset, but it’s usually been related to basketball and fights with guys in practice and things like that. It’s all been with basketball. And when I leave that, I leave it on the court and I’m a totally different person away from the game.”
No matter how we slice it, Sprewell was unique. Too bad, regardless of how much explaining he did back then, some people were just too quick to judge.