Golden State Warriors may had a legitimate reason to feel slighted when Stephen Curry was left off the Western Conference All-Star team this season. But that still didn't silence the jubilant eruption heard rumbling throughout Northern California when David Lee ended the team's 16-year All-Star drought.
The level of celebration wasn't only increased by the fact that Curry was far from the first Warriors' snub during that time (cough, Baron Davis, cough). Rather it represented a big step away from the team's last All-Star—a player at the center of the worst player-coach feud in recent history.
Latrell Sprewell was immensely talented. He averaged better than 15 points as a rookie in 1992-93, then became a 20-plus-point scorer by his sophomore season. And he matched his offensive prowess with a tenacious effort level on the defensive end where he earned All-Defensive Second-Team honors in his second season in the league.
Despite building an impressive resume over his 13-year career, though, he's remembered as being anything but a legend. He had a series of mental lapses during his playing days, but his rift with former coach P.J. Carlesimo has moved to the forefront of his lasting legacy.
Carlesimo landed in Oakland prior to the 1997-98 season after spending the previous three seasons as the Portland Trail Blazers coach. He inherited a Warriors team that had won just 30 games the season before and faced a future without Warriors great Chris Mullin, whom the team had traded that summer.
Carlesimo knew that he'd need to rely on Sprewell to lead the youthful Warriors. But it wasn't going to be easy to reach his troubled star.
Three days after missing a team flight for a game against the Utah Jazz, Carlesimo didn't like Sprewell's energy level in practice. The coach challenged Sprewell to improve his effort, specifically to throw crisper passes; Sprewell responded that he didn't "want to hear it today," (via ESPN).
When Carlesimo approached him, Sprewell warned him to stay away. After Carlesimo kept advancing, Sprewell grabbed his coach and choked him for 15-20 seconds before teammates could pull him away. He left the practice floor only to return 20 minutes later for a second attack, landing a glancing blow.
Sprewell's days as a Warrior ended almost immediately. He was suspended by commissioner David Stern for 82 games, but an arbitrator reduced that number to 68—the amount of games remaining that season (via ESPN).
On Jan. 21, 1999, he was traded to the New York Knicks, where he played for the next five seasons.
Carlesimo was fired in December of that year after the Warriors began its third straight losing season under his direction.