Monday, as the Seattle SuperSonics prepared to play the Atlanta Hawks, the only undefeated team in the NBA, coach George Karl had a meeting with his players to discuss the incidents that occurred during their 112-105 victory at Philadelphia on Sunday night.
Karl said he and the players decided they would in fact make an official complaint to the league about the conduct of Philadelphia fans - particularly the one who ran onto the court to confront Gary Payton in the final minute of the game - and the lack< of security at the CoreStates Spectrum.
After the game Sunday, Karl initially said he would speak to the league. He later said he did not know if he would because he didn’t want to overreact in the heat of the moment. But after a night’s contemplation, Karl and the Sonics felt strongly enough that they should bring it to the league’s attention.
“I didn’t want to talk about it last night because I think it’s too much emotion,” Karl said Monday from the McDonald’s Coliseum on the campus of Georgia Tech. “So I talked to them today about it and they all feel that I should complain and that I should call. So I will.”
Sonics players were harassed all evening by Sixers fans, but the most serious incident came in the final minute of play, when Detlef Schrempf was shooting free throws. A fan who had been extremely belligerent left his seat, came onto the court and started yelling at Payton from less than a foot away, threatening him. He continued to yell for a full minute before security reached him and threw him out.
“My thing is that (the league) address it and my concerns,” Karl said. “If it continues to go on, there might be a procedure of decorum, but I don’t know if we are there yet or not. I have never witnessed what I witnessed last night in a professional basketball game. I’ve seen it in summer league and I’ve witnessed it in gyms. (NBA commissioner David) Stern is highly concerned about the image of what goes on on the court. Within 5 feet of the court is a very serious image, too.”
Meanwhile, Karl said that despite the Sonics’ four-game winning streak and 5-1 record, he might be considering a lineup change.
Karl has been unhappy about the productivity of Aaron Williams at center, but he has been equally displeased with the play of backup Jim McIlvaine. Karl said he did not know who he would start against Atlanta’s Dikembe Mutombo, but Williams’ starting job is in jeopardy if he continues to play “soft,” as Karl put it.
League gets new TV deal
The NBA and its television partners have agreed on a contract worth at least $2.4 billion over four years, more than double the current deal.
The contract breaks down to at least $1.6 billion for NBC and $800 million for Turner Sports, two industry sources told The Associated Press. The deal is expected to be announced today.
On the courts
Kenny Anderson scored 15 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers came back from a 12-point halftime deficit Monday night for an 86-82 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons.
David Robinson scored 32 points as the San Antonio Spurs overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to defeat the Toronto Raptors 100-98 in Toronto.
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