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Sunday, March 20, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 a.m.

Notebook: Francis suspended for kicking photographer

NBA

Steve Francis

PORTLAND — Orlando Magic guard Steve Francis was suspended indefinitely without pay yesterday by the NBA for kicking a courtside photographer during the fourth quarter of Friday night's game against the Sonics at KeyArena.

Francis missed Orlando's game against the Portland Trail Blazers last night and his availability for tomorrow's game at Charlotte is still in question. Stu Jackson, the NBA's senior vice president of basketball operations, handed down yesterday's suspension and is still reviewing the incident. He is expected to announce the length of the suspension by today.

The alleged incident happened with 8:57 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Magic's 98-90 loss to the Sonics. Francis had his layup attempt blocked by Rashard Lewis and he fell out of bounds and into NBA photographer Jeff Reinking.

Reinking told NBA security that Francis kicked him with both legs, something Francis disputes.

"He threw my legs down, man," Francis said following the game. "That was it."

Asked if he kicked at Reinking, Francis said: "No. I don't know what happened."

Veteran NBA referee Bob Delaney went over to check on Reinking following the incident. Fans booed Francis the next time he touched the ball, an indication that many of them saw the incident involving Reinking.

Reached on his cellphone in Portland yesterday, Francis told The Orlando Sentinel, "It's crazy. ... I don't even want to talk about it until I speak to my agent."

Asked if he wanted a chance to tell his side of the story, Francis said, "It don't make a difference. The perception's out there, so it ain't going to make a difference what I say."

Former Chicago Bull Dennis Rodman was fined $25,000 and suspended 11 games for kicking Minnesota photographer Eugene Amos in the groin in 1997. Francis' suspension and fine aren't expected to be as severe because he doesn't have the history that Rodman did.

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The suspension of Francis is just the latest incident for a reeling Magic team. Orlando had lost seven games in a row before beating the Trail Blazers 97-92 last night. Johnny Davis was fired as head coach Thursday and replaced by interim coach Chris Jent.

Last Sunday, Magic reserve forward Stacey Augmon directed an expletive-filled rant at reporters in the locker room and squirted lotion on several of them, resulting in a one-game suspension. The league also investigated Augmon recently for allegedly making lewd comments to a female reporter. That investigation was dropped when the reporter refused to discuss the matter with NBA security.

Notes

• Philadelphia 76ers F Chris Webber was a late scratch with a compressed nerve in his left leg.

• Chicago Bulls F Eddy Curry missed his third consecutive game with a strained left hamstring.

• The Washington Wizards signed F Damone Brown to a 10-day contract. Coach Eddie Jordan also said that G Juan Dixon will miss at least another week with a sprained ankle. F Kwame Brown missed his second consecutive game with the flu.

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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