| ||Associated Press|
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to
focus on Malik Sealy's life, not the wrong-way driver who ended it.
"If being angry brought back Malik Sealy ... we'd all be
angry," Timberwolves vice president Kevin McHale said. "But nothing anybody's
going to do or say right now is going to change the events of 4
a.m. on May 20. That's written in stone."
On Monday, the State Patrol arrested Souksangouane Phengsene,
43, of Minneapolis, who remained under guard at Hennepin County
Medical Center, where he's being treated for serious injuries from
the crash. Investigators have until noon Wednesday to present the
case to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office for formal charges.
Investigators said Phengsene was driving the wrong way on
Highway 100 early Saturday when his pickup smashed into Sealy's
sport utility truck in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park,
fatally injuring the popular player who was returning from teammate
Kevin Garnett's 24th birthday celebration.
An emergency worker reported that Phengsene, who was convicted
of drunken driving in Des Moines, Iowa, three years ago, smelled of
alcohol as he was extricated from the wreckage. Blood tests are
McHale said the team was trying to remember the good times, such
as Sealy's buzzer-beating basket against Indiana this season, the
first game-winning bucket of his NBA career.
"We watched the shot against Indiana when he banked it in and
he's on the floor and he's got his hands raised and he's kicking
his legs," McHale said, smiling. "I think that's the way I'll
always remember him, just the smile. And the interviews and the
McHale insisted the team held no animosity for Phengsene. "You can be angry at a lot of things," McHale said. "What good does that do?"
The Timberwolves are planning to fly to the funeral, which will
be held Friday, 10 a.m. ET, at Riverside Church in New York. Sealy starred at
St. John's before being drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1992.
All the players except Rasho Nesterovic, who has returned to
Slovenia, are expected to attend.
On Monday, Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders attended a memorial
ceremony for mentor Bill Musselman, who coached him at the
University of Minnesota in the 1970s and served as the Wolves'
Saunders broke down as a prayer at that service was said for
Sealy, who is survived by his newlywed wife, Lisa, and their
3-year-old son, Malik Remington.
"I had a tough time today," Saunders said. "But I think it's
going to be that way for a while. It's going to be like that for
our players for a while."
Sealy was coming off the best season of his eight-year NBA
career. After the Wolves stumbled to a terrible start, Sealy
cracked the starting lineup and sparked Minnesota to its best
"I hear people say we had a great year, 50 wins. But that
doesn't matter. Because no matter what, this year will go down as a
loss," Saunders said.
Lisa Sealy released a statement saying the family was deeply
moved by the sympathy of the Timberwolves, the NBA, friends and the
public. She said the family was "thankful to know that Malik was
loved by so many."
Sealy was one of the more affable and intelligent players in pro
sports. He had parts in commercials and movies and was a successful
businessman. He played for the Pacers, Clippers and Pistons before
finding a niche with the tight-knit Wolves.
Saunders said that although Sealy was a free agent, he was
certain the 30-year-old guard/forward was planning to stay in
"I think he had finally found a situation that he loved, and,
more importantly, where he was really loved," Saunders said.
The grieving will take a long time because players are scattered
for the summer and will revisit the tragedy when they report to
camp, Saunders said.
Saunders and McHale are particularly concerned about their star,
Garnett, who worshiped Sealy so much that he patterned his play
after him and chose No. 21 in his honor.
"The fortunate thing for Kevin is he had an opportunity to play
with somebody he idolized growing up," Saunders said. "You don't
always have that opportunity. Malik touched his life and instilled
a lot of positive qualities in KG. So, yeah, we're concerned ..."
Garnett, who has not spoken to the media since Sealy's death,
posted an audio clip on his Web site Monday, the Star Tribune
reported. The newspaper quoted Garnett as saying: "I'm here. Trying to
get it done. Trying to find some reserve from within."
McHale said he'll draw on his experiences grieving the death of
Boston Celtics teammate Reggie Lewis, who died of heart failure in
"As time goes by, you do remember the smiles and the
laughters," McHale said. "You remember a lot of the positive
"I think the pain subsides and the memories stay forever."
Garnett thanks fans for support since Sealy's death
Driver who struck Sealy has history of drunken driving
T-Wolves' Sealy dies in crash with wrong-way pickup
Flip Saunders says Malik Sealy will be missed but, never forgotten.
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