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DARK CLOUDS OVER SUN COUNTRY
Armen Keteyian
April 27, 1987
The biggest drug bust ever in pro sports implicated 11 present or former members of the Phoenix Suns
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April 27, 1987

Dark Clouds Over Sun Country

The biggest drug bust ever in pro sports implicated 11 present or former members of the Phoenix Suns

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Last month Phoenix police requested a videotape of the Suns- Milwaukee game played on Feb. 21 in Phoenix. A Phoenix gambling source told SI that two days before the game, word circulated in the betting community that "something was up" concerning the over-under line for that game, which was 226 points. The source said he was told to take the "under." Last week The Arizona Republic reported that a Suns player had told several people at Malarkey's that the over-under total would be less than 226. The Suns lost 115-107. There were reports that thousands of dollars were won by "under" bettors who were in the know.

About six weeks ago, there was a secret meeting in Phoenix attended by officials of the NBA and the Suns, Phoenix police chief Ruben Ortega, Maricopa County Attorney Tom Collins and detectives involved in the gambling investigation. One of those present said that possible drug use among the Suns was discussed. NBA officials eventually decided that they wanted to test some players, but the Phoenix lawmen asked them not to, explaining that testing would interfere with their investigation.

The NBA, like other pro leagues, prohibits associations between players and gamblers and maintains a security department that supposedly monitors such matters. Asked last week about the Phoenix situation, NBA commissioner David Stern said, "We were assured by the county attorney two weeks ago that there was no gambling involvement by anyone on an NBA team." Stern said, however, that because of media reports concerning gambling, the league had decided to investigate.

How severely will all this affect the Phoenix franchise? "It will make them perhaps a little more like a family that doesn't realize it has a problem, then discovers it," Stern said. "Anyway, these are just allegations. Not every indictment results in a conviction."

Defense lawyers attacked the cases as being unusually thin. They argued that the prosecution could be on particularly shaky ground if it intended to rely heavily on Davis as a potential witness. His continuing personal problems with cocaine, they said, could seriously impair his credibility on the stand.

The case left the Suns in considerable disarray. They did not make the playoffs and on Saturday night ended the season with a 121-106 win over the Los Angeles Clippers in Phoenix. Humphries and Gondrezick played, but not Bedford, who was injured, or Davis. The next time those last two individuals see their teammates, it could be in a courtroom.

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