Though he admits he had his hands around the neck of his coach, Latrell Sprewell insists he never choked P.J. Carlesimo and he does not need anger counseling before returning to the NBA.
In a transcript of an interview broadcast Sunday night on CBS' 60 Minutes, Sprewell said the marks on Carlesimo's neck were made by his nails and prove he wasn't choking the Golden State Warriors' coach.
"I wasn't choking P.J. I mean, P.J., he could breathe. It's not like he was losing air or anything like that. I mean, it wasn't a choke, I wasn't trying to kill P.J.," Sprewell said in his first public comments since an arbitrator reduced his punishment Wednesday.
"If you're choking someone, you don't get scratches. You get welts totally around your neck. It's not like I was going to sit there and kill the man. No, I would have stopped, definitely."
Warriors spokesman Eric McDowell said the team would not comment Sunday on Sprewell's remarks.
Sprewell attacked Carlesimo at practice Dec. 1. Two days later, the Warriors terminated the remaining three years on Sprewell's $32 million contract. The following day, the NBA suspended Sprewell for a year.
But arbitrator John Feerick ruled the dual penalties were too harsh. He reinstated the contract and reduced the suspension by five months, which means Sprewell will return to the Warriors July 1.
Sprewell will forfeit $6.4 million in salary for this season, but the Warriors must pay the final two years and $17.3 million of his deal -- unless they trade him and another team becomes responsible for the contract.
Sprewell's remarks on 60 Minutes echoed the testimony he gave before Feerick. Some of that testimony was included in the 106-page ruling issued by the arbitrator.
The arbitrator said Sprewell must undergo counseling before returning to the NBA, but Sprewell said the widespread debate stemming from the attack has provided all the counseling he needs.