Fortson may not play today after confrontation
Danny Fortson disputed an offensive-foul call, sparking a shouting match between him and coach Nate McMillan.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Because they have lost two consecutive games and had the previous day off, yesterday's Sonics practice figured to be intense.
And emotions reached a boiling point during the 90-minute workout when Danny Fortson disputed an offensive-foul call, sparking a shouting match between him and coach Nate McMillan and ending with the volatile forward being thrown out of practice, according to witnesses.
The incident occurred during a portion of practice closed to the media.
McMillan and a handful of players were available afterward but no one commented specifically on Fortson's outburst.
"Guys will blow up at each other just like being in a family," guard Antonio Daniels said. "Everyone doesn't always get along in the family in the greatest way, whether it's your wife, your brother, your sister, niece, nephew or whoever it may be. Sometimes you have disagreements.
"That's a part of relationships. Everybody on this team has a different relationship with each other. I consider it to be a small disagreement that we need to put to the side and move forward."
Still at issue is whether Fortson will play against the Chicago Bulls tonight. McMillan said he wasn't certain if Fortson will remain in the rotation and said he's trying to send a message to the Sonics (41-18) before they face the Bulls, who enter tonight's 7:30 game at KeyArena with a 31-27 record.
"We are in a time of the season that the intensity of the game is different than it was a month ago or a few weeks ago simply because you're more than a month and a few days away from the season being over," he said. "And these teams coming in here are coming in here with that type of intensity. I think we've played hard, but we've had a period of time where we haven't executed.
"The message is you can't make the mistakes we were making in December and January and February and accept that. Those things were drilled and taught and discussed months ago and some of those things shouldn't happen at this time of the season."
All season, McMillan, who was ejected in Tuesday's 97-95 defeat to Houston for arguing with referees, has directed his team to lay off officials after questionable calls. He wants all of the team's complaints to funnel through him.
But the Sonics, who picked up a reputation last season as a team that whines about questionable calls, still frequently complain to officials.
Chief among them is Fortson, who has been disqualified a team-high 10 times and is tied at the top of the NBA's flagrant-foul tracker with four points.
Yesterday, his temper erupted after one of the three referees the Sonics employ to officiate practices gave him an offensive foul during a layup, which was contested by center Jerome James.
One observer described the play as a bad call because James was standing in the restricted area beneath the basket.
Fortson verbally attacked the referee, and when McMillan attempted to intervene, Fortson turned his tirade to the coach before teammates pulled him to the side of the court.
McMillan then told Fortson and the three officials to leave the court and practice resumed without them.
Said one observer: "I've never seen that happen before. I've seen them disagree before, but nothing like that. We all have our days. Jerome went off a couple of weeks ago, but never like this."
Fortson was acquired in a trade before the season that sent Calvin Booth to Dallas. He has a history of disputes with coaches during a checkered eight-year career with five teams.
He feuded with former Golden State coach Eric Musselman during the 2002-03 season and still harbors bad feelings toward Dallas coach Don Nelson, who he believes orchestrated the trade to Seattle.
"I've known Danny since we were in college when he was at Cincinnati," said Daniels, who attended Bowling Green. "That's just Danny, which is about as much as I can say. He's a great guy off of the court. Great guy.
"On the court, he's a different guy. No question he's intense, and several times this season we've used that intensity to carry us in some big, big wins."
• The Sonics conclude a four-game homestand tonight before a three-game trip to New York, Chicago and Detroit. During the past three games, Seattle, which is sixth in the NBA at 100.6 points per game, has not scored 100.
• Forward Nick Collison had his nose reset Wednesday after breaking it during Sunday's 110-99 defeat to Phoenix. He'll wear a protective mask for a few weeks.
• The Sonics' bench scored a season-low 13 points Tuesday. They averaged 38.5 points during the 50 games before the All-Star break. Since the break, bench scoring is down to an average of 30 in nine games.
Percy Allen: 206-464-2278 or email@example.com
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