Work in Sports
T'wolves' Sealy dies in car crash
Posted: Sunday May 21, 2000 01:59 AM
Sealy, 30, died of head and chest injuries after the 4 a.m. CDT crash on Highway 100 just north of a construction zone in suburban St. Louis Park.
He was on his way home after celebrating the 24th birthday of teammate Kevin Garnett, who had admired Sealy as a youth.
Timberwolves players and players' wives were at Sealy's home comforting his wife, Lisa, and young son, Malik Remington, said coach Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale, vice president of basketball operations.
"This is a sudden and devastating loss to our team," McHale said. "We're in shock. Malik was one of the most popular players in our locker room, and one of the biggest reasons behind our turnaround and success this past season on the court."
A moment of silence was observed at the opener of the Western Conference finals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Lakers in Los Angeles.
"Malik Sealy was a stellar contributor to the NBA, his team and his community," NBA commissioner David Stern said. "This is a tragic day for the NBA family, and we extend our sympathy and prayers to his family."
At a news conference, team president Rob Moor called Sealy a "unique individual."
"His sense of humor is what I'll remember more than anything. His off-the-cuff comments; he could take you by surprise and say the most wonderful things at the perfect time. That's something we'll certainly miss," Moor said.
Added Saunders: "Words can't express the loss that I feel today. Malik was a wonderful person who touched everybody in a special way."
Donnie Walsh, president of the Indiana Pacers, the team that chose Sealy in the first round of the 1992 NBA draft, remembered him as "a tremendous performer and a true gentleman."
The pickup driver, Souksangouane Phengsene, 43, was traveling north in the southbound lane, the patrol said. He was hospitalized in serious condition with head and chest injuries.
Neither accident victim was wearing a seatbelt, police said. An airbag deployed in the truck. Sealy's sport-utility vehicle didn't have an airbag.
Authorities had not talked to Phengsene by Saturday night, so the investigation was still in its early stages, said Capt. Al Smith of the state patrol.
Sealy is the second NBA player killed in a traffic accident this year. Charlotte Hornets guard Bobby Phills died after a crash on Jan. 12, when he and teammate David Wesley were racing their Porsches at more than 100 mph after a morning practice.
Sealy was involved in a car accident on his way to practice during his first season with the Timberwolves and needed 20 stitches to close a cut on his forehead.
Sealy had just finished his eighth NBA season and his second with the Timberwolves. He averaged 11.3 points in the regular season and 12.5 in the playoffs as Minnesota was eliminated in four games in the first round by the Portland Trail Blazers. He played in every regular season and playoff game.
His season was notable for the way he improved his shooting percentage, making more than 50 percent of his shots over the first half of the season -- a rarity for an NBA guard -- before finishing at 47.6 percent. He hadn't shot better than 43.5 percent in his first seven seasons.
Sealy, who also played in the NBA for Indiana, the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit, grew up in New York and starred at St. John's, where he was the school's second-leading career scorer behind Chris Mullin when he left following his senior season in 1992.
"We will long remember Malik, not only for his outstanding ability on the basketball court, but also for his gentleness and strength of character in our classrooms and throughout our campus," said the Rev. Donald J. Harrington, president of St. John's.
As a high school senior, Sealy led Tolentine to a No. 1 national ranking and the New York state championship.
Garnett once said Sealy had been one of his favorite players while Sealy was playing at St. John's and Garnett was an eighth-grader in Mauldin, S.C. He even wore Sealy's No. 21 that year.
"I wasn't the most confident guy at that time, and I was trying to find someone who was another me. Not the best player, but someone who played like me," Garnett said in January 1999. "With Malik, I just related to his body."
Sealy also was an actor and sold a line of ties and clothing through Malik Sealy XXI Inc. While playing with the Clippers, he appeared on such TV shows as "The Sentinel" and "Diagnosis: Murder," and in the film "Eddie."
Besides his wife and son, he is survived by his parents, Sidney and Ann Sealy.
His father was a bodyguard for slain civil rights leader Malcolm X. Sidney Sealy named Malik after one of Malcolm X's Muslim names.