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Pippen arrested on suspicion of DWI

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Posted: Thursday April 22, 1999 09:50 PM

  Drowning his sorrows? Scottie Pippen scored only four points in a defeat to the lowly Mavs. Brian Bahr/Allsport

HOUSTON (AP) -- Scottie Pippen was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated early Thursday morning after running a red light, police said. The star forward released a statement through his agent that denied the charge against him.

"I was not intoxicated when arrested after the game last night and I'm confident the evidence will support me in the end," the statement read. Pippen added that he had no further comment and was turning the matter over to his lawyer.

Teammates supported Pippen during a brief practice before jetting to Los Angeles for a game with the Clippers on Friday. Pippen didn't attend the workout, but coach Rudy Tomjanovich said he would accompany the team.

"I'm hoping it won't be a distraction," Tomjanovich said. "We are trying not to make any assumptions. It would be unfair to comment when nothing has been established. I'm sort of used to unexpected things happening. You just try not to lose your composure."

Houston, currently fourth in the Western Conference, was beaten by the Dallas Mavericks 109-95 Wednesday night, keeping the Rockets from clinching a spot in the playoffs and snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Rockets.

Pippen had four points and three rebounds and was repeatedly beaten defensively in one of his worst games as a Rocket.

"Scottie is my teammate and I'm behind him 100 percent," Charles Barkley said. "This is not Armageddon. It happened. Scottie Pippen probably wasn't the only person stopped last night.

"Scottie Pippen is a role model. If all the kids grew up to be like Scottie, the world would be a better place."

Barkley planned to offer serious support to his teammate but also said Pippen wouldn't get off lightly with the team.

"I'm going to get on the plane and take the PA and say, `Attention Mr. Pippen, last call for alcohol,'" Barkley joked.

The officer who stopped Pippen around 1:30 a.m. in downtown Houston called a member of the department's DWI task force after suspecting Pippen was driving drunk, said police spokesman Fred King.

Pippen, 33, did poorly on the field sobriety test and was taken into custody, where he was videotaped and given the opportunity to take a breath test, King said.

After he refused, Pippen was booked on suspicion of DWI and released on $500 bond just before 7 a.m. His arraignment was set for next Thursday before Harris County Court-at-Law Judge Sherman Ross.

Pippen, a seven-time NBA all-star with six championships as a Chicago Bull, was cooperative by all accounts, King said.

"I don't have any kind of information about any trouble at all," he said.

Pippen has not formally hired an attorney, but Houston lawyer Rusty Hardin said he is set to meet with Pippen next week after both men return from road trips. The Rockets visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

"He adamantly denies he was intoxicated," said Hardin, who spoke with Pippen after the arrest.

Rockets spokesman Tim Frank would not discuss the matter.

"All I can tell you is that he was arrested," Frank said. "I have not seen any of the documentation on this, so I'd prefer not to comment."

How the arrest will affect Pippen's role with the team was unclear.

"I think we need to get all the facts before we start looking at any team policy," Frank said. "I think that would be premature."

In January, Pippen left the Bulls, where he had spent his 11-year pro career, and signed a five-year, $67.2 million contract with the Rockets.

Pippen, who has been slowed by back and hand injuries but hasn't missed a game, is averaging 14 points and six rebounds, both below his career averages. His six assists per game is slightly better.

"It's been my experience that a lot of times, something negative off the court brings you together and makes you stronger on the court," teammate Matt Bullard said.

 
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