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Outside the Lines:
Character Study
and Gag Rule


Here's the transcript from Show 116 of weekly Outside The Lines - Character Study and Gag Rule

SUN., JUNE 16, 2002
Host: Bob Ley
Reporter: Andrea Kremer
Guests: Pat Croce, former Philadelphia 76ers president; Joe Lupo, Stardust race and sports book manager.

BOB LEY, HOST- June 16, 2002. He is a high school star, and he's heading for the NBA draft.

DeANGELO COLLINS, DECLARED FOR 2002 NBA DRAFT- I feel if a team takes a chance on me, that's the best investment they could ever make.

LEY- He also has a history of violent and criminal behavior.

COLLINS- So I hit him three times, and his nosebleed.

PAUL PINTO, MICHAEL PINTO'S FATHER- There's a good possibility Michael, had he been left alone there with this kid, might not have come out of that gym.

LEY- His conduct, his character, is a cause for concern from interested NBA teams.

MITCH KUPCHAK, LOS ANGELES LAKERS GENERAL MANAGER- We did ask him, you know, questions regarding the incidents in his past.

JERRY WEST, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES GENERAL MANAGER- He wants to be an NBA player. And I think all of us need to focus on that, not what's happened in the past.

LEY- Also, this week -- A federal law on the confidentiality of medical information could re-shape how sports deals with the reporting of injuries.

Today on Outside the Lines, a medical gag rule, and an example of why NBA teams conduct a character study.

You can argue about the basketball wisdom of their decisions, but the fact is that in the past several years, as high school players have become fixtures on the NBA draft lottery, these youngsters for the most part have adjusted well to the professional life. They have been good basketball citizens.

This year could test that. The draft does hold examples of lives redeemed. Caron Butler, who played two years at Connecticut, has left behind his early teen problems with the law, which were considerable.

Lee Benson hopes to be drafted in 10 days following his release from eight-plus years in prison for firearm and drug trafficking crimes.

Players with such issues in their lives get extra scrutiny from NBA teams about to expend a precious draft pick. The buzzword is character.

Andrea Kremer has the story of a high school player who is talented and available; a young man who must answer the critical question, just how far is he from the trouble in his past?

ANDREA KREMER, ESPN CORRESPONDENT- Nineteen-year-old DeAngelo Collins is a 6-foot-10 McDonald's High School All-American, who is declared for this year's NBA draft.

DeAngelo Collins has also twice spent time in juvenile hall, the equivalent of prison for minors.

COLLINS- Where I grew up at, a lot of stuff happened, you know. People get shot. I mean, drug transactions going around through my neighborhood. Growing up and seeing them things, seeing that -- it made me not want to be there.

KREMER- Collins grew up in Stockton, a city in Northern California. He was raised by his single mother, Loretta Taylor, a truck driver who was rarely at home.

LORETTA TAYLOR, DEANGELO COLLINS' MOTHER- I didn't make every single decision for him. I put it out there for him and let him decide, you know, gave him a chance to be -- I can't say a grown up, but -- let him make his own decisions.

KREMER- Collins' first run in with the law was in October of 1996, when he was 13 years old. Because he was a minor, court records are sealed. But, according to published reports, Collins was convicted of misdemeanor assault against a female neighbor. Collins denies that charge, but does acknowledge that he spent 30 days in the San Joaquin Juvenile Hall because of the incident.

Did you beat up a woman?

COLLINS- No, I never, never, never -- that's where the story got twisted. I never --I mean, the girl lied. You know -- and like, escaped to Utah. And the parents end up -- like, the whole family ends up coming to court and testifying for me. I ended up --you know -- end up saying let DeAngelo go.

KREMER- And then, how did you end up going to Stockton, down in Southern California? Why did you move?

COLLINS- As far as basketball-wise, you don't hear about too many people coming out of Stockton. So I felt like if I come to a big city -- you know, with my talent --maybe I could, you know, do something.

KREMER- Over the next year and a half, Collins was shuttled amongst various relatives and basketball coaches, one of whom was Bob Gottlieb. In early 1999, during his freshman year of high school, Collins lived with Gottlieb and his family for about five weeks.

BOB GOTTLIEB, COACHED AND HOUSED COLLINS- He was bright, he was engaging, he was worldly. He wasn't -- he was somebody that you could hold interesting conversations with, and we treated him like a son.

KREMER- Collins played at Gottlieb's basketball academy. During one practice, he objected to Gottlieb's instructions to continue running drills.

GOTTLIEB- He just turned around and in an absolutely frightening, vicious way --verbally, not physically, but verbally showed the other side, to where I just said to him, son, you need to find another place to live.

KREMER- Collins left the Gottlieb's home that night, and went to stay with some friends. Less than a month later, he was kicked out of the basketball game at Tustin High School. Collins school record shows 27 separate instances of disciplinary action being taken against him, ranging from detention to on-campus suspension, to sitting out a basketball game. The most serious incident occurred after Collins was already off the team.

On March 24, 1999, following a morning practice, Collins had a fight with a former teammate, Michael Pinto, whom Collins blamed for getting him kicked off the team. Pinto declined to speak with ESPN on camera, but his father, who was not there at the time of the fight, recalls his son's version of the incident.

PINTO- DeAngelo was provoking Michael the whole time. He was by the door, waited until practice, waited until everybody left, coach included, and came up, and took Michael's clothes, shoes.

COLLINS- I ended up throwing his shoes across the gym. And he ends up going to get it.

PINTO- Michael went and got it, came back, was trying to get dressed, all sweaty, trying to get out of there, and then he swung from behind him, and that's when Michael turned around to defend himself.

COLLINS- When he comes back, he throws my backpack. So, I threw his shoe again. But he didn't go pick up his shoe this time; he turns around and he punched me in the jaw.

So, I grabbed him and we ended up, like, wrestling a little bit. And I threw him to the ground. I was like, man, I don't want to fight you because I don't want to get suspended. And so, he ends up like ripping this chain my grandmother gave me before she passed away, and like, my earring -- punching up at me -- so I hit him three times and his nose bleed.

PINTO- DeAngelo, at one point when Michael was on the ground, was kicking him in the head and pouncing him, but apparently grabbed the steel chair, the kind that they -- for special events -- and was about to hit Michael over the head with that steel chair. There's a good possibility that Michael -- had he been left alone there with this kid -- might not have come out of that gym.

KREMER- This civil complaint filed by Pinto lists the injuries he sustained. Including a fractured nose and finger, bleeding from the ears, and severe injuries to the head. Collins was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon -- His fists. And pled guilty.

This is clearly a situation where you say one thing, they say another, but the bottom line is that you ended up being charged with a felony and you pled guilty. Why?

COLLINS- That's the twist about it. I was supposed to have the best lawyer in Orange County, and he told me to plead guilty because he told me I wasn't going to get no time. He told me it was a school fight, the judge is going to dismiss it, and, you know, technically, because if you lose a trial they give you up to two years or something like that.

KREMER- Collins served five months of a six-month sentence in Orange County juvenile hall. He still owes Michael Pinto $35,000 as part of the judgment in the civil suit, in which the Tustin School District settled out of court for more than $125,000.

COLLINS- I never want to hurt nobody. I didn't try to hurt him, you know. I mean, if people were there and they -- if God could show everybody, like on a big screen, show the whole world what happened, everybody would be apologizing to me.

KREMER- Following the fight, Collins dropped out of Tustin and subsequently enrolled in Inglewood High School, about an hour away. He is scheduled to graduate Thursday. And, according to Inglewood head basketball coach Patrick Roy, Collins has matured on and off the court.

PATRICK ROY, COLLINS' COACH AT INGLEWOOD HIGH SCHOOL- Once he came here in the last three years, and he's been here, it's been stable for him, and now he understands what he must do. I don't believe that DeAngelo ever came home and said, you know, somebody made him, say, do your homework, or you can't go out and play before you get your chores done.

KREMER- How has DeAngelo's discipline record been here at Inglewood?

ADRIANNA MCNALLY, INGLEWOOD PRINCIPAL- As far as I can see, and I've seen his discipline record, it's been good. I haven't seen any real problems, no more than you see with many of the other students.

KREMER- Any acts of violence that you know of?

MCNALLY- Not that I know of, no.

COLLINS- I haven't been in trouble, you know, ever since that incident happened. You know, I was a freshman. You know, I mean, things happen in life where you can't change them, you can't reverse them.

ROY- I believe that if he didn't have the past that he has, he would be a shoe-in to go early, first round.

KREMER- So you are convinced that his off-the-field baggage is going to drop him, to an extent, in the draft?

ROY- Oh, without question. I really believe so, yes.

KREMER- In the last month, Collins has worked out for at least half a dozen NBA teams. They've attempted to gauge his talent, check the status of a recent knee injury, and assess his character. Some teams have even hired a private investigator to check Collins' background.

Throw at me some of the questions you've heard from NBA teams?

COLLINS- How focused are you, at such a young age? You know, stuff like that. So, tell us what happened when you were 13 years old.

KUPCHAK- We did ask him, you know, questions regarding the incidents in his past. And he was very forthright and straightforward with us, and you know, didn't appear to keep anything back, and answered the questions to our satisfaction.

COLLINS- They just wanted to hear it from me. You know, from my own mouth. And, so, I mean -- they wasn't -- they're not bothered by it -- I mean, it's a lot of players that's going to the draft that got a background probably worse than mine.

WEST- I told him, I said -- You know, what you do from this point forward is what's going to matter. I said, everyone in the past hasn't always done the right thing. And we have some very, very successful players in the league that have had some issues in their past. And they've not only turned out to be great players, but really great citizens.

KREMER - But Michael Pinto's father warns that the person who assaulted his son is not suited to play in the NBA.

If an NBA scout or general manager called you, and asked your opinion on DeAngelo Collins, what would you tell them?

PINTO- I would have to tell them that there's a possibility that this kid will do this again to someone else. There's a possibility he could do it to a fan, or a woman --who knows? I would have to say that if I was a general manager in the NBA, I wouldn't have anything to do with this person.

COLLINS- I feel if a team takes a chance on me, that's the best investment they could ever make. Because they will really see the good. You know, they'll really see like -- everything they've heard, everything that everybody has said -- I don't see none.

LEY- There may actually be another question about DeAngelo Collins, one that NBA teams may need answered as much as the character issue. Collins this past season delayed returning from a knee injury even though he was cleared by doctors.

Joining us now to discuss the character study in the draft prospect, Pat Croce. In his five years as team president of the Philadelphia 76ers, the team drafted Allen Iverson, about whom there were at the time some questions, but last spring, of course, Iverson led the 76ers to the NBA finals. Pat Croce joins us this morning from the Jersey shore, in Ocean City. Good morning.

PAT CROCE, PRESIDENT, PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 1996-2001- Good morning, Bob, how are you?

LEY- I'm doing just fine. How do you assess the character, what's the checklist and where does character rank if you're going to sit down and look at somebody you're going to spend one of your two draft picks on -- where does character rank?

CROCE- Bob, I think character is right up there with talent and athleticism. You know the bottom line in the NBA is to win. But you don't want to win at any cost. You want to make sure that a character individual who is in your locker room doesn't poison the chemistry of that locker room. It's as if you're adopting someone into your household, into your family. So, character is high on that scale.

LEY- It's high on the scale, but the calculation that you make -- I mean, if you've got a second-round pick, you're going to cut him a lot less slack, or is that true -- than a first-round pick? Are you going to apply the same standard to a lottery pick that you will to somebody in the 40s?

CROCE- Yes, you're right. No, it's someone -- let's use the analogy of Allen Iverson. Allen Iverson had superb talent and athleticism, and we needed a scorer, we needed someone to resurrect the 76ers franchise in '96. That's not the same situation as a DeAngelo Collins right now. I mean, I don't think the talent level of DeAngelo is anywhere near what Allen's was at the time.

But you're right -- if it's a second round, you're going to make that change just slightly different. Because you feel in your own heart and mind that if you take him into your family, you can change him, you can provide the care and concern that Coach Roy did with him.

LEY- Well, how did you learn about Allen Iverson the person?

CROCE- First, it's mono-a-mono, Bob. Face to face. He came in, and had a work-out, and then the team sat with him, the coaches and trainers sat with him, and then I sat with him.

But more importantly, we also went down and visited his neighborhood, his hood; we sent investigators down there. I talked to John Thompson, the coaching staff talked to John, talked to his high school coaches, his trainers, and he's not a bad guy. He had some baggage in the past, but then again, who am I? If I look in the mirror, I got tossed off a college campus when I was 18 from fighting. So, we do eventually mature. It's can you use that mental toughness on the court? Will he play as tough as you want to act?

LEY- How much money did you spend checking out Allen Iverson?

CROCE- Quite a bit.

LEY- Quite a bit?

CROCE- Yeah, you know what...

LEY- Five figures?

CROCE- Five figures is --yes.

LEY- Yeah. Less than six. So, a fair amount of money.

CROCE- Yeah, a good amount of money because not only that, then you're going to use psychologists for psychological testing, and even though it's not a perfect barometer, it gives you some indication based on other thresholds. And you need all the information you can get, because that can change a franchise. Allen Iverson transformed the Sixers franchise. It worked for us.

LEY- It worked for you, but even after his first season there was still another issue so that you still were -- I guess -- maybe second-guessing yourself after his first year on the job, right?

CROCE- Bob, you're right. I'm not saying we were -- the IQ level was way up there, because, you kidding me? That first year, I remember he had some issues -- he had been arrested for there was drugs and guns and speeding in a car. I had to go to the trial down in Virginia. Are you kidding me? And then the next year, I know we suspended him for a Boston game, the following year a Miami game, and you think, oh, my goodness. But with constant care and concern and maturation level of Allen Iverson you saw leadership skills arise. You saw him, like a sponge, take to the court.

LEY- Absolutely. Now, he's obviously recognized as an NBA warrior, but now if with your hindsight looking back at five years at the helm of the Sixers, high school kids -- the great variable in the draft -- how does that complicate it? I mean, Allen was a college sophomore coming out. We're talking about young men coming out at 17, maybe 18 --perhaps 19. How does that complicate the process?

CROCE- It does complicate it. Allen was 19, as is Collins. But when you're 19 years old, I don't think you know what you don't know. You don't know the ways of the world. But I do know that when you take someone out of an environment and an environment now where you're with grown men, that can change the influence placed upon your whole lifestyle. You have grown men in that locker room. They may not tolerate some of the stuff you do with your buddies down in the neighborhood, or in that high school locker room. You've got to mature real quickly. Guys like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, they already had it.

LEY- Yeah. At the end of the day, though, still a crapshoot, isn't it?

CROCE- It's a big factor. It's a big... Cause you know what? All the choices you make in life are going to determine how your life unfolds. And this choice in the NBA draft is so important. Many times they say it's luck and chance. No, it's by choice.

LEY- All right, Pat Croce. Thanks a great deal.

CROCE- My pleasure, Bob. Have a great day.

LEY- OK, you, too. Pat Croce, thanks for joining us.

Next up, imagine that a law forbids the discussion of sports injuries on the basis of medical confidentiality. Imagine the impact and what that would mean trying to handicap a game. It is all very real, and we will have it as we continue Outside The Lines.

LEY- It's clearly an example of Congress and unintended consequences. A statute going into effect next April, one designed to strengthen the confidentiality of a patient's medical records, may well affect all of sports. Health care providers, and that means teams, will be prohibited from disclosing patient information without specific patient permission.

Though he later changed his mind, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman first said this past week that the club would not release news about player injuries because of this new law.

Senator Edward Kennedy says he will be looking into amending the act, given the impact on sports. But the fact is, right now, major changes could be coming.

LEY- Injuries are more than a cruel part of the game. They've become a major part of the fans and the sports media's inalienable right to know.

AL MICHAELS, ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL- Injury update right now, here's Melissa.

MELISSA STARK, ABC MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL- Al, Dan had it right; Ed McCaffrey has a fractured left leg, that's the official word from the team.

LEY- A right to know that is usually satisfied within minutes.

Injuries to star players are major news. They affect pennant races, television ratings, ticket purchase decisions. Major professional leagues regularly issue detailed injury reports.

A random check of several Monday evening SportsCenter's during the NFL season found an average of five minutes devoted to reporting the sick call from the prior day's games. The impending change in federal law, if unamended, would change the pre-game conversation around the batting cage, the ability to predict games, and be felt materially in Las Vegas, where league injury reports and all circumstances affecting the game are scrutinized to set the betting line.

Joe Lupo sets the line at the Stardust in Las Vegas, where he's the race and sports book manager, and he joins us early on a Las Vegas Sunday morning. Good morning, Joe.


LEY- Fine. We're talking about information, how valuable is information to you and to the people who come in and wager?

LUPO- Oh, information is one of the biggest factors that involve us making the line, and involved in the handicappers. There are a lot of people out there; information is so accessible right now via the internet and media coverage right now. Everybody has information, so it's a real priority in trying to get that information as soon as possible and when you're making a decision with your own money to make that wager.

LEY- So give me a for instance here. NFL quarterback, could be up in the air, might go -- how much might a starting quarterback, whether he plays or not, affect the betting line, and how much of a swing in dollars are we talking about?

LUPO- There's some quarterbacks that have a lot of impact. And we'll keep the game off the board. Usually we know about the injuries and we know if the quarterback got hurt. And the thing is, there's a period of time when we don't know his status. We'll keep the game off the board. There might be a three-to five-point swing on the quarterback and the line movement and betting adjustments that we might make, so it's critical that we know -- or at least that we have an idea whether he's going to play, whether he's not going to play, or whether he's 80 percent to 30 percent factor of not playing or not.

LEY- Well, you know, because there's an injury report given out by the league or by the team. You have a situation now this past Western Finals in the NBA, Kobe Bryant, food poisoning. Or Jason Kidd, after that gash we saw in the piece, to his head, we didn't know until just before the game whether he would play. Something like that must put someone like you on edge, and if the team can't reveal injury information, puts you kind of in a hard place.

LUPO- Yeah, it definitely did. And when we found out that information, we took the game off the board immediately. Somebody like Kobe Bryant is definitely going to be a three-to five-point adjustment.

From our standpoint, though, we're still going to listen to the media and from the coverage -- you don't hear a lot of team physician reports, you just basically hear Kobe went to the hospital, he had a problem. We're still going to find out that information and the media's still going to be at the hospital when he comes out or at the practice facilities when they come out. We're still going to be able to find out whether he practiced, how he felt.

The situation, though, involving Kobe Bryant that day -- you know, from our standpoint, food poisoning can be very serious, it can be -- you know -- not a problem at all. We took the game off the board. I knew it was a big game, so I put the game up kind of feeling that he probably would play and they'd shoot him up with some intravenous liquids and he'd be in the hospital resting all a day. As it turns out, we got lucky and he did play that night. But definitely, the factor of not knowing is our biggest concern.

LEY- So if this law remains unamended, and teams, unless they get specific permission from a player, or it's dealt with in collective bargaining, if I can't tell you around the batting cage that Clemens can't go or the heel hurts, or whatnot, how does that complicate your life?

LUPO- Well, we'll definitely keep the game off the board; we won't put a line up until that day, probably. Until we learn, until we can see the media reports, whether he did practice that day. You know, it's definitely very critical. From the standpoint of the information, though, I think we'll still rely on the league to distinguish whether that player is probable or whether they will still be able to put out a status report without revealing how in-depth the information is from the team physician.

LEY- Well, we will await to see exactly what Congress does. Joe Lupo, thanks for getting up early on a Las Vegas Sunday morning with us. We appreciate it.

LUPO- Oh, my pleasure, Bob.

LEY- OK. Thanks a great deal. More in a moment. We are moments from SportsCenter going live to the U.S. Open.

LEY- Outside The Lines is online at, the keyword is "OTL Weekly." We've got a full library of transcriptions and streaming video of our Sunday morning programs. Our e-mail address -- and we welcome your thoughts on NBA character studies and the medical gag rule -- Thanks for being in touch.

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