Latrell Sprewell glad he’s been welcomed back to the Garden
On Sunday, Latrell Sprewell attended a ballgame. On Monday, he attended a bowl game.
So it goes for the back-in-good-graces former Knick, who on Sunday was welcomed back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since 2004 and sat next to owner James Dolan courtside for the Knicks’ upset of the Spurs.
One day later, he was at Chelsea Piers, a few blocks south and west, ready to participate in the 18th annual Knicks Bowl to benefit The Garden of Dreams Foundation — an event whose inaugural he attended when he was a player for the team.
The Knicks and Sprewell had been working on a reconnection for some time, but Sprewell said he did not get the call officially inviting him to the Garden until Saturday. He lives in Milwaukee.
That led to understandable speculation the team was reacting to Charles Oakley’s ejection and arrest from the Garden last Wednesday in an attempt both to change the subject and to showcase its positive relationships with other alumni.
Sprewell said he was not bothered by the perception his invitation was tied to Oakley’s outburst, saying he was just glad to be back in the fold.
“I mean, it is what it is at this point, you know what I mean?” he said. “That situation was very unfortunate, but hopefully they can iron that out, someway, somehow. I know the city loves Oak. The fan base here loves him and they feel the same way about me. It’s kind of a similar situation as far as that goes.”
Sprewell, 46, was a Knick from 1999-2003. In his first game back as a member of the Timberwolves in December 2003, he cursed at Dolan. He said the two did not discuss that matter when they were together Sunday.
“I think we both at this point know it’s in the past and it’s all about moving forward,” he said. “I’m not proud of what I did, obviously, but like I said it’s not something that we went over and discussed. It’s in the past now and we want to move forward from that, obviously.”
So what did Dolan and Sprewell talk about? “Mostly team stuff,” Sprewell said. “It was very easygoing, very open, light-hearted. It was good, though. I was pleasantly surprised. Happy to be back.”
Sprewell said the fans’ reaction to his presence was “great” and added he is grateful for how well he always has been treated by them.
Asked what he is up to these days, Sprewell said only, “Trying to stay out of trouble.” But he hopes to build on his renewed relationship with the Knicks.
“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “I feel bad about the [Oakley] situation, obviously. No one wants to see that happen. I don’t think the New York fan base and the team deserves to have an incident like that happen. But it did.
“At this point you can’t really control. You just have to learn from it and like I said earlier hopefully they’ll iron it out someway, somehow.”
What does Sprewell think of the current Knicks?
“I thought with the moves that were made over the summer getting [Joakim] Noah and [Derrick] Rose, [Brandon] Jennings, those guys are experienced veterans. They’ve been around. They know how to play the game. Sometimes it just takes you a while to jell. My first year here in ’99, the lockout year, we didn’t start out well at all. I mean, we were sitting middle of the road, if not worse, a .500 team.
“It took one game against Miami, who was really good, they were in first place at that point. Just getting the win against them kind of propelled us and we didn’t look back [and reached the NBA Finals]. So sometimes it just takes a while for guys to click. I think they do have the talent. I can’t pinpoint why they aren’t having a better season, but they’re definitely a talented team.”