Hispanic leaders accept Issel's apologyPosted: Wednesday December 19, 2001 4:55 PM
Updated: Thursday December 20, 2001 1:55 AM
DENVER (AP) -- Hispanic business leaders on Wednesday accepted Denver Nuggets coach Dan Issel's apology for an insensitive ethnic remark, and the two sides agreed to work together to benefit the community.
"We accepted his apology, and we're excited, and we're looking forward to the future relationship between the Nuggets and the Hispanic chamber and the Hispanic community," said Monica Pleiman, a member of the Denver Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board.
During a luncheon meeting at a north Denver restaurant, Issel apologized specifically to the Hispanic community.
"I think what I said a week ago is even a stronger statement today," Issel said. "That was not me making those remarks. That is not the person I am, and I will spend the rest of my life proving to this community that that is the case.
"I am willing to do whatever it takes to show to the people of this community that that is the case."
The two sides then met behind closed doors to discuss their future relationship.
As Issel walked off the court after the Nuggets lost to the Charlotte Hornets on Dec. 11, a fan shouted at him. The coach responded: "Go drink another beer, you Mexican ... ," adding an expletive at the end of the sentence.
Issel was suspended for four games. He apologized the following day and then met with Hispanic leaders Friday. He also has acknowledged that he has trouble controlling his temper and plans to do something about it, but has not been more specific.
He is scheduled to return to coaching duties Saturday when the Nuggets are home against Golden State.
After the meeting ended, Hispanic chamber members and representatives of the Nuggets owner, Kroenke Sports, said the two sides would focus on ways to support the community.
David Ehrlich, executive vice president for Kroenke Sports, said he hopes to get the chamber involved in two company projects, the Labor Day Denver Grand Prix and the opening of an amphitheater.
'When they saw Dan's sincerity, people have been accepting of that and I found that impressive,' Ehrlich said. 'The primary thing is people have worked for solutions.'
Issel said, "Something good already has come out of this Situation, and now it's up to us, not only me and the Nuggets, but the Hispanic community, to make sure that that happens."
In a prepared statement, chamber member Greg Lopez said the behavior of both Issel and the fan was unacceptable. "We hope that others can learn from this situation," he said.