For the National Basketball Association's Golden State Warriors, the decision to terminate the contract of their top player had little to do with winning games or saving money: It was simply a matter of right and wrong.
The action marks the first time in the 51-year history of the NBA that a franchise has terminated a player's contract for insubordination.
Declaring that misconduct by athletes has been endured for too long, the Oakland-based team Wednesday night terminated Latrell Sprewell's $32 million contract - two days after he attacked the team's coach and threatened his life.
The star forward admitted he made a mistake in assaulting coach P.J. Carlesimo at practice. But he did not apologize and said the incident was a result of repeated verbal abuse from the Warriors' new coach.
Only two other NBA players, Roy Tarpley and Richard Dumas, have had their contracts voided. In both cases, the players violated league drug policy.
"Outrageous misconduct by players in professional sports has been tolerated for too long," says Garry St. Jean, the Warriors' general manager. "We are drawing the line. Some things are more important than winning or losing games. We believe this to be the correct moral and ethical thing to do."