Washington Wizards point guard Rod Strickland and swingman Tracy Murray came to blows at the team hotel this afternoon, which required Murray to get seven stitches below his left eye and Strickland to undergo X-rays after the Wizards' 104-101 loss to the Charlotte Hornets tonight at Charlotte Coliseum.
After the game, Murray left before the locker room was open to reporters and Strickland refused to comment. But sources said a dispute between the two has been brewing over a phone conversation between Murray and a woman in Los Angeles. The woman taped the conversation, which included Murray making disparaging remarks about Strickland, and then played the tape for Strickland.
It's not clear what brought the dispute to a head today but Strickland visited Murray's hotel room this afternoon and a scuffle ensued. Murray was left with a large bruise on the back of his upper left arm, a swollen lip, a black left eye and a cut below the eye. The Hornets' team doctor closed the cut before the game and Murray wore a bandage over it while playing. Strickland had a scrape below the knuckle of his middle finger and a large, L-shaped scrape on his left shoulder.
"I have no comment on that," Strickland said.
"It's a family matter that needs to be resolved inside," Coach Bernie Bickerstaff said.
"All I know about is the altercation," General Manager Wes Unseld said by phone from his home in Maryland. "I'm just trying to get in touch with both of those guys right now. It's going to be handled is all I can tell you."
Asked how disturbing the incident was to him, Unseld said: "It's very disturbing. It is something that is not going to be tolerated."
There have been several recent scuffles between teammates or between a player and coach.
The NBA suspended Golden State Warriors guard Latrell Sprewell for one year after he attacked his coach, P.J. Carlesimo, twice within 20 minutes during a practice last week. The Warriors terminated Sprewell's contract, which was to pay him more than $7 million this season. Sprewell held a news conference Wednesday in Oakland to apologize for his actions. Several days ago, Wizards owner Abe Pollin said he might consider someday acquiring Sprewell, if he apologized.
In late August, Washington Redskins wide receiver Michael Westbrook threw teammate Stephen Davis to the ground and delivered several punches, an incident that was captured on tape by WUSA-TV. In November, University of Maryland women's basketball player Kalisa Davis was charged with misdemeanor simple assault in connection with an incident in which she allegedly struck teammate Sonia Chase in the face, according to court records.
A team source said Strickland had X-rays taken after the game, but it wasn't clear what was examined. Strickland had his left wrist taped but said he did not have that X-rayed after the game. One Hornets player, who asked not to be identified, said Strickland appeared to be having problems with his right wrist.
The incident happened sometime between the team's morning film session and the time the Wizards boarded the team bus that took them to the Coliseum. The team did not hold it's normal game-day shoot-around because it flew into Charlotte late Tuesday night. The rest of the Wizards players declined to talk about the incident. CAPTION: Washington Wizards forward Tracy Murray's bandage covers seven stiches below his left eye.