NBA / Aug 5, 2009 / 1:16 pm

Al Harrington almost choked out Don Nelson

Al Harrington

Al Harrington

Just yesterday, I was watching an old Suns/Rockets game on ESPN Classic when I was reminded of the time Robert Horry threw a towel in Danny Ainge‘s face when Ainge was coaching Horry in Phoenix. (The only team with which Rob didn’t win a championship.) Like a lot of older controversial sports stories, I always wonder how things would’ve played out differently had it happened in 2009 with today’s media climate.

I thought that same thing just now when I heard about Al Harrington‘s interview with Bay Area radio station KNBR. Talking about his time with the Warriors, which ended with Harrington falling out of favor with Don Nelson and being benched before he was traded to the Knicks, Harrington said:

“I just didn’t feel like Coach respected me as a man and I just felt like I had to make a move before I did something that I would regret.”

That sounds like what Latrell Sprewell would’ve said if he’d been traded from Golden State before he choked out P.J. Carlesimo. And if Harrington had pulled a Sprewell move on Nellie, can you imagine how much bigger of a story it would be with today’s media?

First off, you know somebody would’ve caught the altercation on their camera-phone. And remember, this would’ve been post-Ron Artest at the Palace; David Stern would probably suspend Harrington for two years, and he’d be vilified by two million blogs, podcasts, newspaper and magazine columns, and TV segments. Around the Horn would devote an entire episode to their guys calling Harrington the dirtiest of all dogs, and SportsCenter would cover his punishment proceedings like it was the Kobe trial all over again. Al Harrington would be the most famous athlete in the country for a couple of months, then it would die down after Brett Favre was spotted playing Madden using the Texans, sparking rumors that Favre wanted to play the next season in Houston.

It’d be too bad, too, because I’ve met and worked with Al before and he’s a good dude. (Same for Artest, for that matter.) But every man has his limits, whether it’s having a cup of water thrown on him or being treated like less than a man. Fortunately, Nellie and Harrington’s beef didn’t get to that regretful place.

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  • The Law

    Meh…This entire article revolves around a “What if?” scenario, completely unnecessary. Stop making a mountain out of a mole hill.

  • J.Hicks

    Did you figure that out all by yourself, The Law? Good job. I don’t think AB made any indication that it wasn’t a “What if” scenario. That was the whole point.

    Anyway, if a guy did something like Spree in ’09, it’d be mayhem in the media. ESPN would have to re-hire Steven A. Smith just to get on air and scream about it.

  • Jayo

    Considering they were $8 million a year & all he did was jack-up horrible 3s. Who cares how Nelson treated him. Wow! So you didn’t start a game. Oh no! I’ve been benched! Is that really disrespect?

  • http://www.twitter.com/AustinatDIMEmag Austin Burton

    @Jayo — I’d assume Harrington was talking about some stuff that went on behind the scenes.

  • F.L.A.S.H.

    dime u gotta stop it with the whole making up shit in the headline crap, that aint cool

  • GayforRudy

    I hearby agree to allow anyone to “disrepect me” for millions of dollars per year. Where do I sign up?

    You may even refer to me as “shit head” for 3+ mill per year.

  • Coop

    This is terribly weak

  • bballinca

    Yup you can call me whatever you want at $8MM a year.

  • d

    I love Dime, but come on, stop posting inflamatory headlines like this. I respect the majority of what you guys do and how you bring coverage seven days a week (especially when a lot of other blogs take the time off), but as journalists you gotta have some integrity in your posts.

  • LakeShow84

    WTF are you guys crying about??

    Its going to be slow at least until camp opens.. everyone whining and schnuff..

    i didnt mind the read.. if you dont like the story dont finish it and continue on.. Fuckin whiners..

  • LakeShow84

    And when a grown man says he might do something he might regret it could be a lot worst than chokin someone out..

    Shit AB couldve put “Harrington was fit to Shoot that Mofo Nelson”..

  • Kevin

    I’m with LakeShow on this. I don’t see what’s so bad about this post. From what Harrington said, it sounded like he was about to snap on Nellie, so the headline isn’t a total stretch. And when did all you guys become journalism professors? Quit complaining about free shit…

  • L@zychuCK

    BIG Al was the bomb & still is.. do u see his #s after being traded to the Knicks… i ve Lost alota respect for Don Nelson thru out the yrs… he pretty much pulled another “webber” with Harrington… sad to see him go … still have his jersey WOOP!!

  • Jayo

    @ Austin

    The man plays basketball for a livin. And does it for a truckload of cash. The problem is a lotta athletes have a warped sense of life b/c of the money they make. All he has to do is shut-up. Do what your coach says & play/practice hard. Then cash your checks & go home & stay outta trouble. If he does that I’m sure he doesn’t have to worry about “the Don” disrespecting him.

  • http://nba.com P

    I was watching that game also…Marbury needs to get his head together & sign w/ somebody..Stevie Franchise to.

  • Sacto_J

    Not an improbable scenario. I’m surprised Crawford hasn’t had anything negative to say regarding Nellie, and he got done dirrrty. What, exactly, are the Warriors doing? I have to agree that their ultimate goal is to alienate their fan base. Unbelievable how they’ve gone from a team that upset a #1 seed and MVP to being bottom of the barrel in like 3 seasons. Whatever it is they’re doing just makes you scratch your head…

  • Michorizo

    Today Harrington would have gotten away with it…I mean Gatti’s wife is going to get away with choking him out, so why not him?

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    @Jayo — He’s still a human being, though. Whatever your job is, if a boss or a co-worker is doing things to aggravate you, your emotions don’t shut down just because you’re getting paid. Forget the money; he’s still a man at the end of the day. Again, who knows what issues Nellie and Al had away from the cameras.

    Have you heard the story about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s H.S. coach telling him he “played like a nigger” during halftime of a game? Had that happened at the pro level, should Kareem have just “shut up” because he’s getting paid millions? I’m not saying Nellie did anything that bad to Harrington, but it’s an example. Sometimes coaches go over the line with how they talk to players, just like “regular” bosses go over the line with employees.

  • Coop

    People are complaining because these guys get paid to write this stuff you morons and it’s not good journalism. You don’t need a degree to understand that. NOTHING inferred he wanted to do a Sprewell. End of.

  • L@zychuCK

    where is ur Degree Coop?

  • J.Hicks

    Coop, who the hell made you the King Of Writing? Dime puts together a magazine AND a website. If you want “good journalism,” read the mag. This is a website/blog, where not every article has to be some deep investigative piece. This article is a few paragraphs about something Al Harrington said in an interview meant to give readers something to think about. And like somebody said, I think the “something I’d regret” line from Harrington can be taken a lot of ways. Get off your high horse and have a cheese sandwich, moron.

  • the cynic

    Al Harrington is garbage. Don Nelson probably asked Al to keep the keg cold in the locker room, but Al was too busy telling anyone who would listen that he is the best player in the league…. then the beer got warm and Nelson flipped

    true story

  • Allen Zhang

    the cynic says:
    Al Harrington is garbage. Don Nelson probably asked Al to keep the keg cold in the locker room, but Al was too busy telling anyone who would listen that he is the best player in the league…. then the beer got warm and Nelson flipped

    true story

    Well,dude,you ain’t see that,ok?And you also said “probably”.So don’t say “true story”.You cannot say Al is garbage just based on “probably”.That doesn’t make sense.

  • the cynic

    i used the word “probably” and “true story” as an intentional contradiction so people would know im just making poking fun at Nelson and Harrington. Read between the lines

  • Coop

    J Hicks,

    Must I be ‘The King Of Writing’ in order to critique it? I’m just a guy with a fairly decent understanding of language and literature, and even that’s enough to spot gaping holes in these articles. Maybe you should get off Dime’s nuts for a minute a realise: a) THIS IS THEIR JOB! and b) I’m sure you’ve shouted at the tv “don’t take that shot” when some guy jacks up a stupid 3 or something, so what’s the difference. Are you better than a NBA player? Right, go home.

  • AR

    People who would trade their self-respect for money are really sad individuals. I don’t care if you’re paying me all the money in the world, if you cross the line you’re gonna get it.