P.J. Carlesimo still unsure why Sprewell choked him, says Jay-Z is his favorite musician
Since becoming the interim head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, P.J. Carlesimo has revived the struggling Nets from an underachieving team, to having a solid chance of winning the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic division. Carlesimo recently had an interview with the YES networkin which he opened up to everything from Jay-Z being his favorite musician to expressing his sadness and anger about college basketball’s Big East breaking up.
Here are some of the questions and answers from the interview:
On the demise and restructuring of the Big East Conference:
“I try not to think about it because I get either really sad or really angry. It’s hard to understand exactly why. I mean, football drove that league even from the beginning, so many of the things we did were to keep the football schools there. That’s why you had different teams coming in at different times. But for a league that has meant so much to those institutions, and so much to the fans, you know, on the East Coast, when it was the Big East, when everybody was in the East, and…everybody played each other twice; it’s kind of sad to see it, as spectacular as it was and as good as it was for so many players and coaches and fans and schools, to see it dissolve.”
Carlesimo’s favorite musician:
On his 1997 choking incident with Latrell Sprewell while coaching Golden State Warriors:
We just were in the middle of a practice, and we were doing a drill, and, (I) asked Spre to put more zip in a pass…
(On if he had a good relationship with Sprewell up to that point)
I wouldn’t say it was a great relationship, but I wouldn’t have said it was bad.
(His first reaction when Sprewell choked him)
More surprise, not shock. Again, I mean, there were so many people around. It was, you know, it’s a practice, and things happen at practice, but no, there was nothing that led up to it. So it was more surprise.(On of if he ever felt in danger) No. It wasn’t a situation like that.
(Was he surprised that Sprewell returned to practice 20 minutes after the incident)
On what went wrong between him and Sprewell, and if it still bothers him today:
No, to this day, I don’t (know what precipitated it), I’m not sure exactly what it was, but…something set him off, and, just, that’s the way he reacted, and the rest is history. I think people who don’t know basketball, that’s the only thing they know. Like if someone says Spre’s name or someone says my name…they say, “Oh, that, those two guys, I know that.” From here (New York area), if you say my name, they’ll probably relate it to Seton Hall. If you say it on the West Coast, people relate it to Golden State or to Portland.
Did the incident have any racial undertones?
No, no, no. People are always gonna, you know, look at it and say, “Well, it’s a black player, it’s a white coach.” No. I don’t think so. A lot of the players and coaches in the league (NBA), (who) immediately, you know, stood up and said, “Whoa, wait a minute.” Let’s not bring something into this that’s not in it.” That never had any legs.
Did he and Sprewell patch things up?
No, not really.
(If they ever spoke about the incident)
Not really. You know, “Hello”, before a game, after a game, something like that. But first time we were together again was my first game I did for NBC when I was doing broadcasting with another Fordham buddy of your(s), Mike Breen. The first game we did, Christmas Day (2001). It was Madison Square Garden and Spre came over, I think, to do a post-game radio (interview) with Clyde or something like that, but that was the first time we had been face to face since the…since the hearing. Again, it was, you know, hello, somewhat… It was cordial.
(If Sprewell ever apologized)
Not a problem. No.
(Did he expect him to?)
(If Carlesimo wants him to apologize)
No. No, not needed. No, it’s over. I mean, it’s over. It was a long time ago, and (you) move on.