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Sports

Sprewell suspended one game for comments made to fan

| Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2004

NEW YORK -- Latrell Sprewell was suspended for one game by the NBA on Tuesday for yelling a sexual vulgarity at a female fan during a game, the latest episode of a player clashing with spectators.

The penalty was harsher than those issued in the past by the league office for on-court outbursts. The NBA has been particularly concerned about conflicts between players and fans following a nasty brawl in Detroit 2 1/2 weeks ago that spilled into the stands.

Sprewell responded to a female heckler with a sexually vulgar term that was clearly picked up by a courtside microphone and broadcast by television stations KTLA in Los Angeles and KSTC in Minnesota.

Commissioner David Stern has said the NBA needs to re-examine what will be tolerated in terms of civil behavior between fans and spectators, and the penalty issued by league vice president Stu Jackson made it clear that vulgar exchanges won't be.

NBA spokesman Tim Frank said league policy prohibits directing obscenities at fans.

"Our policy is that you can't do it," he said. "When you do it, you're going to get suspended."

Sprewell was to miss the Timberwolves' game last night against Dallas.

Players' union Billy Hunter did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

This is the latest in a series of problems for the 34-year-old Sprewell. He was suspended for one year -- later reduced to 68 games -- for choking Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice in 1997.

In December 2003, Sprewell was fined $25,000 by the NBA for cursing at New York Knicks chairman James Dolan and screaming at the team's bench. In 1999, Sprewell was fined $10,000 for making profane remarks to fans during game.

Last month, he received a misdemeanor citation after arguing with a police officer during a traffic stop. Sprewell, who was a passenger in the vehicle, claimed he was treated unfairly.

The former All-Star also demanded that the Timberwolves extend his contract or trade him, saying, "I've got my family to feed." Sprewell, who will make $14.6 million this season in the final year of his deal, drew criticism from Stern for the remark.

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