REAL HOOPERS: Latrell Sprewell

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  • SF/SG
  • 6’5, 190 lbs
  • 24th Overall Pick, 1992 NBA Draft (Golden State)
  • College: Alabama
  • Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Career Stats: 18.3 ppg, 4.1 reb, 4.0 ast
  • 4x NBA All Star
  • All-NBA Team (1993-94)
  • All-Defensive Team (1993-94)
  • All-Rookie Team (1992-1993)

Standout Seasons: 1993-94, 1994-95, 1996-97

  • 1993-94: 82 GP/ 82 GS, 43.1 MPG, 21 PPG, 4.9 REB, 4.7 AST, 2.2 STL, 0.9 BLK, 77.4 FT%, 43.3 FG%
  • 1994-95: 69 GP/ 69 GS, 40.2 MPG, 20.6 PPG, 3.7 REB, 4 AST, 1.6 STL, 0.7 BLK, 78.1 FT%, 41.8 FG%
  • 1996-97: 80 GP/ 79 GS, 41.9 MPG, 24.2 PPG, 4.6 REB, 6.3 AST, 1.7 STL, 0.6 BLK, 84.3 FT%, 44.9 FG%

A swashbuckling slasher, pure scorer and a relentless defender, Latrell Sprewell had the potential to be one of the NBA’s elite two-way players during the 90’s and early 2000’s.

His career got off to a rapid start in the Bay Area. The 24th pick out of Alabama instantly became a featured player on the Dubs during the early-to-mid 90’s. ‘Spree’ cemented himself as a star in Golden State; earning 3 All-Star berths, All-NBA Team and All-Rookie Team honors. His domineering on court play was akin to his off-court demeanor.

Sprewell’s six seasons of outstanding two-way play came to an abrupt end. In one of the most infamous incidents in NBA history, Sprewell was banished from GSW for choking his coach, PJ Carlisemo, during an altercation at practise. This incident sent shockwaves through the NBA community, and as a result, Spreewells reputation was left tattered. He was without an NBA team and was dealt a lengthy suspension. The franchise cornerstone who was poised to lead the Warriors into the new millennium was now public enemy number one. The misfit New York Knicks gave Latrell a chance at redemption. What Spree achieved with the Knicks was more than redemption, he made history.

In his first season with Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks, Sprewell willed the 8th seeded Knicks to the 1999 NBA Finals. The man whose career was in limbo had become New York’s prodigal son. Latrell was the type of anti-hero that could only thrive in the NY environment. His gritty, yet graceful play felt right at home inside the hallowed grounds of Madison Square Garden. The Knicks fell short to the Spurs in ‘99 Finals but Spree had re-established himself as household name for all the right reasons. His following years with the Knicks failed to re-capture the magic of the lockout shortened ‘99 season. However for that lone playoff run, ‘Spree’ should be considered a Knicks legend.

After five seasons with the Knicks, Sprewell was shipped to the Timberwolves, where he formed an alliance with KG and Sam Cassell. His first campaign with the Wolves was nearly as legendary as his initial campaign in New York. The T-Wolves fell one game shy of the 2004 NBA Finals, falling to the Malone, Payton, Shaq and Kobe Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Latrell’s ’04 playoff run was extremely impressive, as he upped his PPG by nearly 4 points. The man known as ‘Spree’ always showed out when it mattered. His career came to an end after a second season with Minny. Latrell still had plenty left in the tank, however he refused to sign the T-Wolves proposed extension as their offer wasn’t enough to “feed his family”.

Just like that, Sprewell’s tenure in the NBA came to a halt. The Alabama alumni still had a lot to offer to contending teams, it wasn’t meant to be. In his career and post-career, Spree has encountered his fair share of trials and tribulations. As a hooper, Sprewell should forever be remembered as a top-tier talent. He came close to galvanising two unlikely franchises to historic title runs. Between the lines of career-threatening incidents and damaging narratives, Latrell Sprewell has always been a ‘Real Hooper’. 

Peep Latrell Sprewell’s ‘Real Hoopers’ Mix below:

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