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Portland forward stripped of co-captaincy

TUALATIN, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers suspended guard
Bonzi Wells for two games without pay and stripped him of his title
as co-captain Tuesday after he cursed at coach Maurice Cheeks
during a game the night before.

"It just gets old. I'm sick of it," Cheeks said at the
Blazers' Tualatin practice facility. "I'm sick of always saying he
didn't mean it and all that. Players have to be accountable for
what they do and what they say."

Wells wasn't available to comment. The Blazers were leading
71-66 in the third quarter at Dallas Monday night when Cheeks
yanked Wells for taking an ill-advised jumpshot.

Wells swore at Cheeks on his way back to the bench and stood on
the sideline and continued a profanity-laced tirade. Wells sat out
the final 16:17 of the game, and the Blazers quickly lost the lead.
The Mavericks went on to win 105-98.

Cheeks, who signed a one-year contract extension last week, was
still visibly angry Tuesday over the incident, just the latest for
the embattled team.

"Disrespect is disrespect," he said.

Team president Steve Patterson said further violations would
result in stiffer penalties.

"We have said all along that we expect our players to conduct
themselves in a responsible and professional manner both on and off
the court. Respect for the fans and fellow employees is essential
conduct for all members of the Portland Trail Blazers," team
president Steve Patterson said. "We will hold players responsible
for their behavior and we believe this is the appropriate course of
action at this time."

Wells, who is averaging 14 points and 5.3 rebounds, has a
history of turbulent on-court conduct. Earlier this month, he was
fined $10,000 by the team for making an obscene gesture toward a
heckling fan during a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Afterward, Wells apologized for the gesture, saying, "I'm not
going to be 100 percent perfect -- I'm going to have a 10 percent
lapse sometimes."

Wells was suspended by the NBA for a game last November for
spitting on San Antonio forward Danny Ferry during a game. The next
month, he drew a two-game league suspension for his role in a
post-game brawl with the Golden State Warriors.

Last March, Wells was suspended for one game by Cheeks for
"conduct considered detrimental to the team." Details of the
matter were not released.

After several player arrests and team infighting fueled the ire
of disgruntled fans last season, Blazers officials had launched an
effort to repair the team's tarnished image this year.

But so far, in addition to the problems with Wells, attendance
levels at the Rose Garden have been dismal, and the team's record
is lackluster.

"You just want to want to come and play basketball," said
guard Jeff McInnis, who will likely replace Wells in the starting
lineup during his suspension. "Out here it seems like it is more
about personal stuff than basketball."