The Curious Case of Latrell Sprewell Why He Turned Down a $21 Million NBA Contract

The Curious Case of Latrell Sprewell: Why He Turned Down a $21 Million NBA Contract

In 1997, Latrell Sprewell who had just led the Golden State Warriors to their second-straight NBA Finals appearance was offered a 4-year $21 million contract extension to remain with the Warriors and he turned it down. His reason? He wanted more money. If you don’t know what happened next, it’s pretty incredible.

Background on Latrell Sprewell

This incident is one of the most well-known in basketball. The player is Latrell Sprewell and he was offered a 3-year, $21 million contract extension with the Golden State Warriors. This all happened before the 1998-1999 season had started and would’ve kept him on for an additional three years after his current contract was up.

When he declined this offer, it created tension between the player and his coach. The coach felt that the offer should be accepted and there was mistrust between them due to their different perspectives on what to do with this money. Ultimately, they did not reach an agreement and he ended up being traded to the New York Knicks where he played until 2003 when he retired from basketball

First Details About His Problems in Golden State

Golden State Warriors coach P.J. Carlesimo had an issue with Latrell Sprewell, who was the team’s star player at the time. In December 1997, Carlesimo suspended him for not running up and down the court in practice and being disrespectful to other players on the team. To get back at Carlesimo, during Golden State’s next game against the Knicks, Sprewell crossed over to New York’s side and refused to play defense against John Starks, one of his former teammates from his days with the old New York Knicks. The Warriors ended up losing that game by two points and three days later, they traded him to Milwaukee for Sam Cassell, Bobby Simmons, and Robert Tractor Traylor.

What Happened?

The story of Latrell Sprewell is one that’s been told and retold but there’s more to the story than many people know. In 1995, the Golden State Warriors offered him a three-year, $21 million contract, which was declined by Sprewell himself. The reason for this decision? I’ve got family to feed, he said at the time. At first glance, it’s easy to see why people would have assumed he turned down the deal because he had his sights on an even bigger payday in free agency but as it turns out, that wasn’t what was going through his head at all.

The reasoning behind turning down that multi-million dollar contract was quite personal, according to The Undefeated. In his own words, Sprewell said I don’t give a damn about playing basketball. I hate it. If it wasn’t for my son and my wanting to spend time with him, I wouldn’t care if I never played another game in my life.

What people don’t realize is that he took that opportunity to be with his son more seriously than anything else, so much so that when he did return to playing after initially refusing to do so under terms specified by Golden State Warriors general manager Garry St.

His Response Reveals Motives Behind Turning Down the Offer

I was able to sit down with my family, and we discussed it, he said. We went over the pros and cons, and what it would be like if I were to make this decision. Ultimately, I had to tell them that I’m not ready right now, he explained. I don’t want this responsibility because I have a family to feed. This decision was not about money, he added. It was about being prepared for fatherhood. At the time, I wasn’t ready for that role yet. That’s what it came down to.

Where Is He Now?

Latrell’s decision to turn down the contract was met with both praise and criticism. On one hand, he showed integrity by sticking to his principles. On the other, he left more than $20 million on the table and likely cost himself an NBA championship ring. As it turned out, not playing in the NBA for four years was good for Latrell’s career.

He became a ferocious player after sitting out that time and ended up getting a four-year deal from the Knicks worth more than $21 million per season.

But today, at age 44 and retired from basketball, he is serving 15 years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. Although that sounds pretty harsh, it’s worth noting that he was attacked by his wife and was merely trying to protect himself. Ultimately, some fans were just happy to see Latrell back on the court for one more season in 2007 where he managed to score 14 points per game. They had missed him since 2002.

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