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Bickerstaff Discusses Sprewell

By Ric Bucher
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 3, 1997; Page B5

That Washington Wizards forward Chris Webber still would want Golden State guard Latrell Sprewell as a teammate even after Sprewell apparently attacked Warriors Coach P.J. Carlesimo is not surprising. That Wizards Coach Bernie Bickerstaff still would want to coach Sprewell is.

While making it clear that he did not condone Sprewell's physical confrontation with Carlesimo on Monday, Bickerstaff said the incident would not preclude his interest in having Sprewell on his team. The Warriors suspended Sprewell without pay for 10 games as a result of the incident.

"We all get the benefit of the doubt," Bickerstaff said. "I'd rather have a guy who has some emotion to him and really cares about winning. This thing is about winning. Now, I haven't done a background check on Sprewell, but that would include Sprewell if he was of that [winning] character."

To illustrate his point, he pointed to one reporter and said to another, "Because you kick him, why should I judge you on how you relate to me?"

Webber has been close friends with Sprewell since Webber's rookie year, when they played the 1993-94 season together with the Warriors.

"Everybody in D.C. knows that Spree is a good friend of mine," Webber said. "And you could probably get him for a ballboy now."

Meanwhile, guard Rod Strickland was glad to hear that someone else had clashed with Carlesimo. While playing for Carlesimo with the Portland Trail Blazers, Strickland was vilified for publicly expressing his disdain for Carlesimo's coaching style.

"They said it was me," Strickland said. "I guess it wasn't me."

A Feeling of Security
Seattle SuperSonics Coach George Karl was impressed by the new MCI Center but could have done without the legions of Secret Service personnel on hand because of President Clinton's attendance at the inaugural game.

"I think the president is the one messing it up," Karl said. "We're not allowed to do this, not allowed to do that. There are more ear plugs here than in an ear, nose and throat surgeon's office."

He didn't mind one aspect of the inspection detail.

"I like the dogs," he said.

Shake, Rattle and Roll
Strickland entered the season with a career shooting percentage of 46.9, but he's shooting 40 percent. Having watched enough shots rattle inside the rim and pop out, he is beginning to suspect outside forces are at work.

"I think the rim is moving," he said. "I think someone is sitting under there moving it." Turning serious, he added: "No, I'm just out of sync, maybe pressing a little bit since I've been missing shots. I'm trying to guide it in instead of just taking my normal shot."

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

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