MINNEAPOLIS, MN--The contract battle between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Latrell Sprewell heated up yesterday as Sprewell refused to feed his family until his contractual demands are met. The 34-year-old forward is in the last year of his deal and looking for an extension worth around $14 million per year. He claimed that any less would prevent him from feeding his family.
“I told you I needed to feed my family,” Sprewell said at a press conference yesterday. “They offered me 3 years at $21 million. That’s not going to cut it. And I’m not going to sit here and continue to give my children food while this front office takes money out of my pocket. If [owner Glen] Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.”
Sprewell has three children: Jarett, age 12; Tiffany, age 9; and Tyree, age 6. He brought them up to the podium during his press conference to taunt T’Wolves ownership and urge them to meet his demands.
“See this cute little guy?” asked Sprewell, lifting little Tyree up to the podium. “He hasn’t eaten since yesterday, and he won’t eat another bite until I get my fair market value. Do I want him to starve? Of course not. I’m not some kind of ogre. I just want to be treated with respect by the T-Wolves front office.”
Then Sprewell turned to Tyree and said “You wouldn’t want to starve now, would you?”
“Please father,” he responded meekly. “Feed me. Just one tiny morsel, father. I’m starting to feel faint.”
“Heartbreaking,” said Sprewell to the group of reporters. “And it’s all the fault of the Minnesota Timberwolves.”
Fans and members of the media criticized Sprewell for using his children as bargaining chips. He was roundly booed at the Target Center the following night, yet refused to budge from his position. Sprewell called himself “a man of principal” and said he’s willing to stand up for what he believes in, even if it means starving his own children.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The last thing I want is for my children not to eat,” he said. “Why would I want that? They’re my children, for God’s sake. Could I feed them with the contract I have now? Yes, of course I could. But that would force me to sell one of the gold plated, spinning rims from one of my Escalades, and I’m not about to do that. Look, my children deserve to eat, and if they die of malnutrition, the Wolves have themselves to blame. Sick bastards.”
Sprewell’s agent, Robert Gist, said he was “shocked” at Taylor and McHale’s disregard for the health and well being of his client’s family.
“This is utterly sickening. Imagine a couple of fat cats so greedy that they would rather let a little kid go without food than part with some of their precious money,” said Gist. “Can you put a price on a child’s health and well being? I think not. Yet the Timberwolves seem to think that price is a paltry $7 million a year. Talk about pathetic. I guess it’s easy for them, since they’re not the ones who have to sit around and watch these children beg for food every night.”
Gist explained that while Sprewell could feed his children if he wanted, he was choosing to stand his ground in order to make a point
“A weaker man might break down and give the poor kids a crumb or too,” he said. “But my client is a man of principle, not some weak-kneed, bleeding heart sissy. He’s trying to make a point, which is that the front office is not paying him enough to feed his family and maintain his luxurious lifestyle, which he has earned. So let’s get this deal done, and get it done fast. Seriously, the 9-year-old is starting to look a little gaunt.”
Sprewell’s teammates have supported him publicly, but privately some are expressing disdain for his negotiating tactics.
“I understand where he’s coming from, but he’s taking this all a bit too far,” said one teammate, who asked not to be identified. “The other night I was over his house and we ate this huge steak dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. And for desert we had the most amazing chocolate mousse. The whole time the 3 kids were sitting at their places staring at empty plates. I tried to give one of them a bite of my steak and Spree was like ‘Don’t even think about it. I’m not caving into Taylor and McHale. No way.’ Poor little kids were really hungry, too. But I guess this is what happens when players are not treated with respect by their front offices.”
On the other side of the fence, Glen Taylor insisted that he wants to resign Sprewell. Though the two sides are far apart, Taylor maintained that he was willing to negotiate and urged Sprewell to feed his children.
“Latrell is playing hardball with us, and that’s fine. But don’t drag the children into it,” he said. “They’re just innocent bystanders. They need their nourishment like all children. Well, two of them need their nourishment. That Jarett is a little porker. He could stand to starve for a few weeks.”
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