Latrell Fontaine Sprewell (born September 8, 1970 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a former professional basketball player and four-time NBA All-Star. He played for two seasons with the Alabama Crimson Tide basketball team.
Sprewell grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and attended Washington High School there, and Three Rivers Community College in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. In 1990 he transferred to the University of Alabama, joining a team which also featured future NBA stars Robert Horry, Jason Caffey, and James Robinson.
Sprewell was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 24th overall pick in the 1992 NBA draft. He started 69 games during his rookie season, averaging 15.4 points per game. He led the Warriors in scoring in 1994, 1995 and 1997. His 1996-97 average of 24.2 points per game was the fifth-highest average in the league.
On December 1, 1997 Sprewell assaulted his head coach, P. J. Carlesimo, during a practice session, choking him for several seconds and later striking him. He was suspended immediately for 10 games, released from his contract the next day, and then suspended for a year by the league. After arbitration, his contract was reinstated and his league suspension reduced to the remainder of the season. During his suspension, he pleaded no contest to reckless driving in an incident where two people were injured, and spent three months under house arrest.
Following the 1998-99 NBA lockout, Sprewell was traded to the New York Knicks. He played off the bench, but shone during the team's surprising playoff run which ended with a loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA finals. Sprewell averaged 26 points per game during the finals and poured in 35 points to go along with 10 rebounds in the decisive game five.
Sprewell was the starting small forward for the 1999-2000 Knicks, which lost to the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals. He was offered a five-year $62 million contract extension.
Center Patrick Ewing was traded to Seattle before the 2000-2001 season, leaving Sprewell to emerge as a leader for a diminished Knicks squad. The team lost in the first round of the 2001 playoffs and failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 15 years in 2002. He was fined $250,000 for showing up to training camp with an unreported fracture in his hand. He claimed to have slipped on his yacht ("Milwaukee's Best"), but the New York Post reported it had been broken in a fight. The Knicks again missed the playoffs and traded Sprewell to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Sprewell joined Kevin Garnett and Sam Cassell in the high-scoring 2003-2004 Timberwolves line-up which earned a top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals. In October of that year, the Timberwolves offered Sprewell a 3-year $21 million contract extension. He declined the offer, which he considered insulting, and finished out his existing contract in poor form. He began the 2005-2006 season as a free agent, rejecting proposed contracts from several other teams before retiring.
Over the course of his career, Sprewell started 868 of 913 games he played in, averaging 18.8 points, 4.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game, with playoff career averages of 19.7 points, 3.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. He was named to the All-NBA First Team at the end of his second season.
Outside of basketball, Sprewell also made his mark on automobile customization by endorsing spinning wheel rims, sometimes called "Sprewells," that were sold through his older brother Terran's Sprewell Racing business in San Gabriel, California.
After leaving the league, Sprewell suffered a number of personal and financial setbacks. He left his family and was sued by his former long-term companion and mother of his four children. He lost his yacht and two houses to foreclosure, and was facing liens for more than $3 million in unpaid taxes. As of July 2015 he was renting a 2,000 square-foot bungalow on Milwaukee's east side.
- Konigsberg, Eric (April 19, 1999) "The Real Spree" New York magazine
- Bresnahan, Mike (May 29, 2004) "The Art of the Wheel: Timberwolves' Sprewell forges a hit spinoff career in the auto-accessories market" Los Angeles Times
- "Latrell Sprewell" (August 29, 2015) Wikipedia - accessed September 8, 2015
- Stitt, Robert (July 8, 2015) "Latrell Sprewell Made Over $100 Million But Now Has No House, No Family" Financial Juneteenth