Though his suspension was reduced and his $32 million contract with the Golden State Warriors was reinstated by an arbitrator, Latrell Sprewell insists he is paying a steep price for attacking coach P.J. Carlesimo.
In an interview broadcast Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," Sprewell pointed to the 68-game suspension he will have served by the end of this season and his resulting $6.4 million loss in salary."I attacked him, but I don't know about getting away with it," he said in his first public comments since the arbitrator reduced his punishment Wednesday. "I mean, to me, that's not getting away with anything."
Though he admitted he had his hands around the neck of his coach, Sprewell insisted he never choked Carlesimo and that he does not need anger counseling before returning to the NBA.
Sprewell said the marks on Carlesimo's neck were made by his nails, and that proves he wasn't choking the Golden State coach.
"I wasn't choking P.J. I mean, P.J., he could breathe. It's not like he was losing air or anything like that. I mean, it wasn't a choke, I wasn't trying to kill P.J.," Sprewell said.
"If you're choking someone, you don't get scratches. You get welts totally around your neck. It's not like I was going to sit there and kill the man. No, I would have stopped, definitely."
Warriors spokesman Eric McDowell said the team would not comment Sunday on Sprewell's remarks.
Sprewell attacked Carlesimo at practice Dec. 1. Two days later, the Warriors terminated the remaining three years on Sprewell's contract. The following day, the NBA suspended Sprewell for a year.
But arbitrator John Feerick ruled the dual penalties were too harsh. He reinstated the contract and reduced the suspension by five months, which means Sprewell will return to the Warriors July 1.
Sprewell will forfeit $6.4 million in salary for this season, but the Warriors must pay the final two years and $17.3 million of his deal - unless they trade him and another team becomes responsible for the contract.
Sprewell's remarks on "60 Minutes" echoed the testimony he gave before Feerick. Some of that testimony was included in the 106-page ruling issued by the arbitrator.
After the attack, Sprewell left the practice gym. He returned about 15 minutes later and was restrained by teammates. The former all-star guard said he did not try to hit Carlesimo at that time.
Sprewell admitted he was upset and was screaming at Carlesimo but was stopped by teammates.
"When that happened, I just started swinging my arms just to get free from those guys," Sprewell said.