If you spent your summer vacation visiting Six Flags Over Butte, or the Hanging Gardens of Gary, or just dozing in a lawn chair—the new Tom Clancy A-framed across your gut—you might envy the go-go lifestyles (and three-or four-month holidays) of your favorite NBA personalities. What did they get to do on their summer vacations?
Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas was arrested last week and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol. Setting aside the image of a 7'3" Lithuanian undergoing a field sobriety test near Cleveland, we might instead ask ourselves this: Why can't my life be more like his?
Just 48 hours before Ilgauskas was busted, Jazz broadcaster Hot Rod Hundley—the only announcer in the team's 28-year history—was stopped in Salt Lake City on suspicion of drunken driving. (At week's end no court date had been set.) The arrest was breathtaking, and not just literally, because alcohol is about as welcome in Salt Lake City as leprosy, and more difficult to obtain. Still, Hundley does get to answer, at age 67, to the name Hot Rod, and that would be neat, wouldn't it?
Speaking of hot rods: 76ers forward Derrick Coleman was arrested this summer on suspicion of drunken driving when he was clocked outside Detroit doing 100 mph in a 70-mph zone. Coleman pleaded guilty and was given a 60-day suspended sentence. While he acknowledged having had a "couple of glasses of champagne," Coleman registered a blood alcohol level of .13 (the legal limit in Michigan is .10), suggesting that the 270-pounder had most likely had more Dom than Mrs. DeLuise.
On his summer vacation, Suns point guard Stephon Marbury was sentenced to 10 days in jail in Scottsdale, Ariz., after pleading no contest to a February drunken driving charge. This summer Marbury was also honored in The Sporting News's annual "Good Guys in Sports" issue. (And why not? He visits prisons in the off-season.) Elsewhere in Scottsdale this summer, Pistons forward Clifford Robinson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession, stemming from a 2001 incident in which the 6'10" C-Rob was driving drunk, inconspicuously, in a banana-yellow Porsche. Cars, champagne, good-citizenship awards: Who wouldn't want to live like this?
Clifford Robinson is no relation to Glenn Robinson, who was charged outside Chicago this summer with misdemeanor counts of domestic battery, assault and unlawful possession of a firearm. (A court hearing is scheduled for Monday.) Prosecutors say the two-time Ail-Star forward was intoxicated when he forced his way into the residence of his ex-fianc�e—and mother of his daughter—and declared himself "ready to die." (He didn't, though the Big Dog did receive an extremely harsh sentence when he was traded from the Bucks to the Hawks.)
Of course there were plenty of NBA stars this summer whom police did not arrest. Alas, Pacers guard Ron Artest—whose name is an anagram of "not arrest"—was arrested, in July, after turning himself in to police in New York City, where he was charged with harassment and criminal contempt for violating an order of protection. (The case is pending.) Artest allegedly left a phone message threatening to "hurt" the mother of his young son.
Ironically it was Sixers superstar Allen Iverson who got all the attention, for a daisy chain of charges—all eventually dropped—in his own domestic dispute. Even for the exonerated, it seems, the off-season is a perilous high wire, strung between the end of May and the beginning of October. Trail Blazers guard Damon Stoudamire appeared in court this summer on a felony drug-possession charge after police discovered (last February) at least 150 grams of marijuana in his house. A judge has ruled that the pot, which police found while responding to a burglar alarm, cannot be used as evidence. But Stoudamire still suffered the doobie-less distinction of having the fuzz publicly bogart his stash.
So did free-agent forward Keon Clark, who was ticketed for weed possession in Danville, Ill. (he paid a $510 fine), shortly before signing a multimillion-dollar deal with the Kings, whose star, Chris Webber, was indicted this summer on charges of lying to a grand jury about payments he allegedly received at the University of Michigan, where he was a teammate of Jalen Rose, the Bulls guard who was driving a rented Bentley in Los Angeles this summer when a gunman approached and fired eight times, point-blank, into the car, hitting Rose's passenger in the face. (You may inhale now.)
We haven't even mentioned the summer's manifold tragedies involving former NBA players, like Sly Williams (convicted of kidnaping and sentenced to five years in prison), Jayson Williams (awaiting trial on charges of shooting his limo driver to death) and Bison Dele (the erstwhile Brian Williams), feared to have been murdered at sea (page 70). And those are just the Williamses.