Fortson suspended one game for refusing to play

Updated: March 28, 2005, 10:34 AM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- The Seattle SuperSonics suspended Danny Fortson for their game against Washington on Sunday night, two days after he refused to enter a game against New York.

Although the suspension was for one game, Fortson will not accompany the Sonics on their two-game road trip to Memphis and San Antonio because he's recovering from a sprained left ankle.

General manager Rick Sund said Fortson told coach Nate McMillan he couldn't play in the second half of the Knicks' game, which the Sonics won 109-101 in overtime, because he wasn't ready.

"He asked him to go into the game in the second half, and he felt he wasn't ready," Sund told the Seattle Times. "You have to be ready, you have to go in the game when the coach asks you to."

Sund said he met with Fortson on Saturday and informed him of the suspension.

"I told him we couldn't have that," Sund said of Fortson's refusal to go into a game when McMillan wanted him. "The suspension is a consequence of Danny not going into the game."

Fortson, acquired in a trade with Dallas during the offseason for center Calvin Booth, is averaging 7.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 17.3 minutes in 54 games for the Northwest Division-leading Sonics this season.

Earlier in the season, Fortson was a major factor coming off the bench in the Sonics' resurgence from a team that went 37-45 last season and missed making the playoffs. The fans at the Key Arena made him one of their favorites earlier in the season.

But he's played less of a role since the All-Star break as McMillan has used second-year power forward Nick Collison more off the bench.

At a scrimmage March 10, McMillan kicked Fortson out of practice for yelling at a practice official and then yelling at the coach.

Top scorer Ray Allen said he telephoned Fortson when he found out about the suspension.

"I just told Danny what he means to this team," Allen said before Sunday night's game. "Even though he may not be the leading scorer for us, I just wanted to tell him how important he was for this stretch run for us and the playoffs."

McMillan didn't want to talk about the Fortson suspension, referring all questions to Sund.

But McMillan did say that it was important for the Sonics to have good chemistry as they wrap up the regular season.

"We want to make sure everybody is on the same page," he said. "That's our focus."

In his eighth NBA season, Fortson is with his fifth team. In addition to Seattle and Dallas, he's been with Denver, Boston and Golden State.

Fortson was not at Sunday night's game.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press