Originally created 02/06/01

Robinson latest Sun to have run-in with law

PHOENIX -- The stars of the Phoenix Suns just can't seem to avoid trouble off the court.

Cliff Robinson was charged early Monday with driving under the influence and marijuana possession after police stopped his car in Scottsdale.

In less than two months, the three best players on the team have been arrested. Penny Hardaway was charged Dec. 14 with intimidation, and Jason Kidd was charged Jan. 18 with assaulting his wife.

"I want to say this is a very embarrassing situation for myself, especially under the circumstances that we've been going through," Robinson said in a brief statement to reporters with Suns owner Jerry Colangelo at his side. "I definitely want to apologize to my teammates and the organization for putting the added stress on the team."

Moments before Robinson and Colangelo met with reporters, the Suns practiced in front of some 3,000 elementary school students who had earned the chance to see the team in the "Quest for the Best" program.

The program challenges the youngsters to come up with a way to improve their school. The trip to practice is one of the rewards.

The last three players introduced to the cheering youngsters were Robinson, Kidd and Hardaway.

The charge against Hardaway was dropped when the woman involved declined to cooperate further with prosecutors. But Kidd still faces a misdemeanor assault charge as well as possible punishment by the NBA and the Suns.

Colangelo said that the collective bargaining agreement prohibits him from taking any action against players until the legal issues are resolved.

"We have 14 or 15 players around here, and we have three players who have had situations in the last month and a half that have been embarrassing to this organization," Colangelo said. "In each case, I believe each has to be held accountable for his actions.

"But it's not an indictment of an entire team. I think we have to look at each situation as they come up on an individual basis."

It would be unfair, Colangelo said, to condemn the entire franchise for the mistakes of three players.

"We have some guys on this team who are really quality people, and there are a lot of quality people in this league," Colangelo said. "I think it's inappropriate to pull down a whole group of players or a team based on the individual conduct of a few.

Coach Scott Skiles declined to reveal how he felt about the series of arrests.

"I don't want to appear to sit in judgment of anyone," he said. "That's not for me to do. But that doesn't mean I don't have strong beliefs about things."

Skiles said his experience as a Michigan State student, when he was arrested for marijuana possession, affects his thinking.

"To a certain extent, yeah, I'm much more tolerant of the things that happen to people that may be perceived as not great," he said. "But on the other hand, I'm not 21 anymore."

Robinson, in the second year of a four-year, $29 million contract, rebuilt his career in Phoenix after a tumultuous time with the Portland Trail Blazers.

In July 1997, a roadblock stopped Robinson's vehicle in Portland after police received reports of a group of men pointing weapons out the windows. The weapons turned out to be paintball guns, but police found a small amount of marijuana in the passenger door. Robinson said it belonged to his brother.

Later that year, Robinson signed as a free agent with Phoenix.

With the Suns, he has been a model citizen and the franchise's steadiest player. Last season, he was named to the all-NBA defensive second team.

Police said they stopped Robinson's car about 1:30 a.m. Monday because it was going 55 mph in a 40-mph zone and weaving in and out of traffic.

Robinson initially refused to get out of the car and twice refused a field sobriety test, police spokesman Scott Reed said. Robinson later submitted to a blood alcohol test, but the results won't be known for several days. Police said they also found a pipe and a small foil packet of what they believed to be marijuana.

Marijuana testing was added to the NBA's new collective bargaining agreement prior to last season. Under the agreement, players who test positive for the drug must undergo mandatory counseling, and a second positive test would include a $15,000 fine. Subsequent positive tests would result in five-game suspensions.


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