With players, owners by side, Musselman apologizes

Updated: October 24, 2006, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A teary-eyed Sacramento Kings coach Eric Musselman apologized Sunday for his arrest a day earlier on a drunken driving charge. His players and bosses were by his side in support.

"We don't intend to desert him in his hour of need. Certainly it was a self-inflicted wound, but it need not be or should it be a mortal wound. Eric's a terrific young coach. To this point he's done an excellent job of taking control of this team."
-- Kings president Geoff Petrie

"First let me say that I'm sorry," Musselman said at Arco Arena. "I'm embarrassed and ashamed. I'm well aware of the seriousness of the situation. It's not representative of how I live my life and I will never take it lightly. It was a huge mistake on my behalf."

Musselman met with his players, who surrounded him as he addressed the media before the team held a shootaround and then left for an exhibition game against the New Orleans Hornets in Reno, Nev.

"The situation with Coach, it was the wrong thing. We don't condone it but we're going to back our coach up," said point guard Mike Bibby, who acknowledged being shocked. "Wrong or right, we're going to be with him. ... He's a grown man. He knows it wasn't right what he did."

Kings owners Gavin and Joe Maloof said no disciplinary action would be taken against the team's first-year coach, hired June 3 to replace fired coach Rick Adelman. That means Musselman will not face a fine or suspension from his bosses.

"It's not in us to do those types of things," Joe Maloof said. "We don't like fining anybody. We don't attack anybody. It's not in our nature. He said he was sorry. We told him we were disappointed."

Geoff Petrie, the Kings' president of basketball operations, said he left a message Saturday for an attorney with the NBA after Musselman called him about the arrest. The coach could face a league suspension if convicted.

"I think he understands completely the gravity of the situation in which he finds himself and the potential ramifications of that," Petrie said. "At the same time though, we don't intend to desert him in his hour of need. Certainly it was a self-inflicted wound, but it need not be or should it be a mortal wound. Eric's a terrific young coach. To this point he's done an excellent job of taking control of this team."

Musselman was pulled over at 2:15 a.m. Saturday about 1½ miles from the State Capitol after his car was seen making a right-hand turn from the left-hand lane and cutting off another vehicle, the sheriff's department said.

Darrin May, the team's executive director of media relations, and two women were in Musselman's Mercedes. They were released.

The 41-year-old coach failed three sobriety tests and had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11, according to the arrest report. The legal limit is 0.08.

Musselman said his apology went out to the city of Sacramento and the fans, the Maloofs, Petrie, and Musselman's family -- most notably his sons, Michael and Matthew.

"The one thing that I am looking forward to is hitting the court again with the team," Musselman said.

Petrie and the Maloofs -- both showing their emotion, too -- hope this is an "isolated incident" that can serve as a reminder about the dangers of drinking and driving. The Maloofs own the Las Vegas hotel and casino, Palms.

"It's an unfortunate situation. It's uncalled for," Gavin Maloof said. "He's a good man who did a bad thing. Just like anyone else, you have to learn from your mistakes. You can go the right way or the wrong way."

The timing of Musselman's arrest is particularly bad for the Kings. On Nov. 7, voters will be asked to approve two ballot measures increasing local sales tax as part of the club's quest to build a new arena in downtown Sacramento. Both measures are considered longshots to pass.

"It's definitely not a positive," Gavin Maloof said.

This is the second head coaching job for Musselman, who was fired by the Golden State Warriors after the 2003-04 season despite leading the team to its most successful two-year stretch during a stretch of 12 straight losing seasons.

Musselman spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Memphis under Mike Fratello.

Some of the Sacramento players told team officials Sunday they didn't want to hold shootaround without Musselman -- so they followed their coach across the parking lot from the practice facility to the arena.

"That's when you're proud to own a team," Joe Maloof said. "That's one of the proudest moments I've had."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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