Ten and a half hours before the most anticipated Seattle Sonics game of the regular season at KeyArena, Shawn Kemp sat at a private table in The Keg Steakhouse and Bar on Roosevelt Way, drinking heavily until 2 a.m., four restaurant workers have told the Post-Intelligencer.
The thrill of having a celebrity in their midst quickly turned to consternation last Saturday night as Kemp consumed nine to 10 drinks over a 3-hour, 15-minute period, mixing single shots of Crown Royal whiskey with Corona beers, employees said.
Kemp, who had been a force for the Sonics during the 1996 NBA Finals, was largely ineffective against the Chicago Bulls the following afternoon. Playing before a nationwide audience on NBC-TV, he didn’t score for the first 18 minutes.
He took only 11 shots, and his play was roundly criticized as unaggressive in the Sonics’ 91-84 defeat before a sellout crowd of 17,072.
One employee recounted how she listened to the Bulls-Sonics game on the radio and heard the commentators ask innocently at halftime, “Where’s Kemp today?”
“I felt like telling them, ‘He has a hangover,”’ she said.
Kemp, in Cleveland for the NBA All-Star Game, could not be reached for comment.
Sonics coach George Karl said Friday he knew of no late-night drinking activities involving Kemp before the Bulls game.
“If it was true, there would be a concern,” he said, but added, “I’m not going to be one to put reliance on gossip in the community.”