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."
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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