Blazers' Stoudamire investigated on drug allegationPosted: Tuesday April 16, 2002 2:47 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 16, 2002 7:48 PM
TUALATIN, Ore. (AP) -- Damon Stoudamire practiced with the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, but didn't comment about a District Attorney's office confirming that a grand jury will decide whether the point guard should be charged with felony drug possession.
Stoudamire left for the locker room before reporters were let in to view the last few minutes of the closed workout. He later exited the building with two friends and drove off.
The Clackamas County District Attorney's office confirmed Tuesday that a grand jury will decide whether Stoudamire should be charged.
The team said Stoudamire's attorney has advised him not to talk about the issue, leaving teammates and coach Maurice Cheeks to vouch for him and project a united front.
"I'm not only his coach, I'm his friend, and anything that's troubling him, it troubles me ... it troubles our team," Cheeks said. "I know his character as a person is very upstanding, so anything that is said about him that is not good, I tend not to believe, because I know what kind of person he is."
Scottie Pippen, a co-captain along with Stoudamire and Rasheed Wallace, said he was "very surprised" when he heard the news.
"He's like the baby brother of our ballclub, and to hear something like that is pretty shocking," Pippen said. "I'm going to be very optimistic about this and believe that there's nothing behind it."
KATU-TV in Portland first reported Monday night that police had forwarded Stoudamire's case to prosecutors last Friday after a search at the player's home in the upscale suburb of Lake Oswego, south of Portland.
The case "contains allegations of felony drug possession against Damon Stoudamire," according to a statement issued Tuesday by the district attorney's office.
Stoudamire, 28, has not been arrested or charged with a crime, "and is presumed innocent," the statement said.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dave Paul, who is not handling the case but is acting as a spokesman for the office, declined to describe the nature of the drugs allegedly found. Paul refused to divulge any other details in the case.
Lake Oswego Police have not released their findings. Paul said that under Oregon's open records law, police reports may be withheld while an investigation is in progress.
Stoudamire, who graduated from Portland's Wilson High School in 1991, is having his best season since being traded from the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 13, 1998. The 5-foot-10 guard is averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 assists.
"Damon's mood was great" during practice, Pippen said, and Cheeks said it was one of the team's better workouts of late.
Cheeks had talked about resting Stoudamire and a few other key regulars during Wednesday night's last regular-season game, against Houston at home. But Cheeks said Tuesday that no one would sit out, and that Stoudamire would play "as usual."
The Blazers open the first round of the playoffs on the road Saturday or Sunday. Their opponent probably will be the Los Angeles Lakers, whom Portland beat 128-120 in double overtime on Sunday.
Pippen acknowledged the investigation is "not the kind of distraction that we want" just before facing their rival, which eliminated them from the playoffs four out of the past five years. Cheeks, however, said the Blazers would not lose focus.
"I don't believe that we will let this deter us from what we're
trying to do," he said. "We may lose a playoff series, but we'll
lose it because they beat us that day; we will not lose it because
of a distraction off the court."