On the official Ten Most Selfish, Greedy, Spoiled to the Spleen, Multimillionaire Athletes You'd Most Like to See Thrown to a Dieting Lion list, you'd have to rank Latrell Sprewell one through at least eight.
He's the Minnesota Timberwolves guard who choked his coach when he was with Golden State. ("It's not like he was losing air or anything," he told 60 Minutes.) He's the one who brandished a two-by-four during a run-in with Warriors teammate Jerome Kersey at a practice and then reportedly threatened to get a gun. He's the guy whose pit bull bit off his 4-year-old daughter Page's ear and mauled her face, but he didn't want the dog to be put down. "Stuff happens," he shrugged.
Now Spree has topped his own remarkable self. He'll be paid $14.6 million this season, but last week he was talking to reporters about how disgusted he is that he doesn't have a contract for next season. Why not help the T-Wolves win the NBA title this season and then see what happens? he was asked.
And Spree said--are you ready for it?--Spree said, "Why would I want to help them win a title? They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I have a lot of risk here. I got my family to feed. Anything could happen."
On three, let's all hurl at once!
Whose family is this guy feeding, Brigham Young's? According to U.S. Department of Agriculture calculations, he should be able to feed his wife, Candace, and six kids for $19,237 this year. Even if you take out taxes and agent fees--which leaves him about $8.3 million--he could feed not only his family, but also 431 other families of eight. Actually, through the World Vision relief program, he could feed 8.3 million people for one day. Or a village of 400 for nearly 57 years. Or Ruben Studdard for two weeks.
He could still feed his family, three times a day every day for a year, the following: shark-fin soup ($100 a bowl in Hong Kong), beluga caviar ($920 for 8 ounces), Kobe beef ($49 a pound), preserved black winter truffles ($175 worth would be enough) and a box of the world's best chocolates (by Pascal Caffet, 14 pieces for $90) and still have almost $7 million left.
You know, for snacks.
Of course, kids don't want that crap. They want McDonald's. Fine. He can get them McDonald's. In fact, at the low-end price of $466,000 apiece, he can get each of his kids a McDonald's franchise, and 11 for himself.
Or forget his family. Spree could buy every fan at Target Center a pizza and a large Coke (cost: about $10) at every home game this year and still have dough left over.
Not that he cares about fans. By asking "Why would I want to help them win a title?" Sprewell spits in the eye of every Timberwolves fan. (If the NBA ever dies, we'll carve that quote on its tombstone.) Why win? Uh, because they're paying you the gross national product of a small nation? Because fans making half of 1% of what you make scrimp for months to see you play one time?
Spree can't relate. Spree doesn't have time to. Spree is busy tending to his huge yacht. Spree is busy driving his fleet of cars, including a custom-designed Lamborghini Diablo, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a $300,000 Maybach, the one with a champagne cooler in the armrest. Spree is busy being pissed about the three-year, $21 million extension the Wolves offered him. "Insulting," Spree said.
Oh, it's insulting all right.
Shame on Latrell Sprewell. Shame on somebody so self-absorbed, so out of touch that he could say something so grotesquely selfish. And not just once, twice. Asked the next day if he regretted playing the "feed my family" card knowing that thousands in the Twin Cities are out of work and facing a bitter winter, Spree said--are you ready for it?--Spree said, "That's where I can be if something happens to me."
Can't we please throw this man a telethon?
No, you know where Spree could be without his God-given gifts? Standing in line at an Emergency FoodShelf outside Minneapolis with Michael Larson, an injured house painter living off Social Security, who gets $93 in food stamps a month. "If you can't feed your family on $8 million a year," says Larson wryly, "you're not budgeting properly."
Says Marc Ratner of FoodShelf, "I wish Mr. Sprewell could come here for a day. We have people who have to decide, every month, whether they should buy food or heat."
And Sprewell has the gall to talk about risk?
Spree, the only risk you face is running into an out-of-work piano mover late at night who has a wife and kids to feed but really has nothing to feed them--except maybe you.
But don't worry. When he chokes you, it's not like you'll be losing air or anything.
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"Why would I want to help [the T-Wolves] win a title?" says Spree. "They're not doing anything for me. I'm at risk. I got my family to feed."
PETER READ MILLER