Sprewell blames media for backlash

MINNEAPOLIS -- The season opener arrived and Latrell Sprewell was still with the Minnesota Timberwolves, unhappy with
his contract situation but determined to give the team his best.

Earlier this week, Sprewell lashed out at his lack of an
extension -- stirring up criticism by threatening to ask for a trade
and suggesting he didn't owe the organization anything this year
because it hadn't taken care of him.

His most-maligned comment, "I've got a family to feed," became
instant fodder for talk-radio and water-cooler rants. Speaking
before Wednesday night's game against the New York Knicks, however,
Sprewell did his best to downplay those prior statements.

"The stuff I'm going through is minute compared to a lot of
things people go through on a daily basis," he said.

The 34-year-old swingman, who will make $14.6 million this
season in the final year of his current deal, blamed media spin for
most of the backlash against him. Sprewell's pregame introduction,
somewhat surprisingly, brought no audible boos.

"I've never cried poverty," he said. "That's why you have to
be careful, as a player, what you say. Certain people like to run
with it and use your statements against you. That's exactly what
happened in this case."

Commissioner David Stern was among the critics.

"The commissioner has criticized me before," said Sprewell,
whose infamous choke of then-Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo in
1997 drew him a year-long suspension. "I'm not really concerned
about the commissioner at this point and what he says."

Sprewell threatened to push Minnesota fans' disdain for pariah
Stephon Marbury to the background. The former Timberwolves point
guard, now with the Knicks, declined comment following the morning
shootaround on Sprewell's situation and the matchup with his old

"It's just another game to me," Marbury said.

New York's Allan Houston, a teammate of Sprewell's for five
seasons, gave a diplomatic analysis.

"I understand what he means by it," Houston said. "He's
working hard to do a job. I understand, because I'm doing the same
thing he is. But I also understand why a guy making $30,000 a year
wouldn't understand."

The Wolves would much rather worry about winning the Western
Conference than talk about contracts, but they're squarely behind
their teammate.

"We're like brothers in here," said league MVP Kevin Garnett.

Minnesota has no question, either, about this being a

"His head's going to be in the game," coach Flip Saunders
said. "Spree's like all of our players. He's going to give it 100
percent. He's going to play with the same emotion he played with
last year, the same emotion he played with three years ago and
he'll play with in two weeks."

In an unrelated twist to this soap opera, Sprewell was given a
misdemeanor citation Tuesday night for arguing with a Minneapolis
police officer after the vehicle he was riding in was pulled over.

Though he wondered Wednesday why owner Glen Taylor hasn't
"taken any steps" to meet with him about his contract, Sprewell
insisted there was no rift between him and vice president Kevin

"I think he understands my position," Sprewell said. "He's
just doing his job to save the team as much money as possible. It's
my job to get as much as I can."

Taylor said there were no new developments on a deal.

Sprewell, who has assumed negotiation responsibilities from
agent Robert Gist, wants at least a two-year extension. He denied
earlier reports that he wouldn't accept a yearly salary less than
what he's getting now. A pay cut is possible.

"I'll be open to it -- looking at everything," Sprewell said.
"I wouldn't want to. It's part of negotiating."