Bernard King's latest brush with the law cost him $100 yesterday, and now the two-time All-America basketball player from the University of Tennessee is free to negotiate a professional contract with the New York Nets.
King pleaded guilty to charges of possessing marijuna and resisting arrest while two other charges, attempted larceny and prowling, were dismissed in Knoxville, Tenn.
Knox County General Sessions Judge Harold Wimberly fined King $50 and gave him a 60-day suspended sentence on each conviction.
Those convictions stemmed from King's arrest July 16, when he also was charged with prowling. At the request of Rex McGee, an assistant attrorney general the prowling charge was dismissed because, according to King's lawyer, William Banks of Knoxville, the prowling charge requires evidence of a "Peeping Tom" offense and there was none in this case.
On July 10, King was arrested and charged with attempted burglary when police found him with $1,500 worth of television equipment from the universitys athletic headquarters. That charge was dropped yesterday when McGee read the court a letter in which Tennessee basketball coach Ray Mears "reported there may be reasonable doubt about Bernard's intent to commit a criminal act."
The leading scorer and rebounder in the Southeastern Conference last season, the 6-foot-7, 210-pound King - brother of Albert King, who will be a freshman at Maryland this fall - was the Nets' No. 1 draft choice. No contract negotiations have taken place between the Nets and King's representative, Donald Dell of Washington.
The Nets' general manager, Bill Melchionni, said King's troubles will have no effect on negotiations.
"We are still willing to pay him whatever his ability commands," Melchionni said. "But we want him to develop a professional attitude off the court as well as on."
Banks, the players's lawyer in these cases as well as in three earlier traffic-related incidents (in which King's total punishment was $2 fine), said yesterday's proceedings "left Bernard with a good taste in his mouth and a big smile on his face. He felt he had been treated fairly and justly."
King, who is living in Washington this summer, could not be reached for comment.
Banks explained the latest incidents this way: On July 10, King simply was "borrowing" the television video-tape equipment at 2:30 a.m. to show movies of the UCLA-Tennessee game to a girl friend. Campus police arrested King as he was taking the equipment back into the building.
(The prosecutor, McGee, said, "The state just can't prove that the defendant intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property." Mears said King and all his players are allowed to use the equipment at any time, "but they can't bring girls in.")
On July 16, Banks said, King was not prowling in an apartment complex. He had been invited there by a girl friend. "But he was an hour late, and he was knocking loud on the door," Banks said. "He saw the girl's car there, so he knew she was there."
At that point, a woman across the hall called the police, who upon arrival told King to be quiet. "Then the police left," Banks said, "and Bernard hung around a little bit. Then he started to leave and this same woman saw him and called the police again. Now, Bernard had a very legitimate right to be there and he didn't think it was right that he was being arrested. He did plead guilty to resisting arrest, and he did have a very small smount of marijuana on him."
Judge Wimberly said suspension of King's 60-day sentence and the Knox County Penal Farm could be revoked if King got into more trouble in Knoxville.
"He underderstands that," Banks said. "You are not going to have any more trouble from Bernard King."