Latrell Sprewell's efforts to win over notoriously unforgiving Knicks fans got off to a good start at his latest public atonement ceremony last Friday. But the goodwill won't get far if he fails to work some quick (mental and physical) magic on the court. To that end, Jockbeat asked some experts in sports psychology to offer Coach Jeff Van Gundy, Sprewell, and his teammates some advice on how the most talked about Knick can make a smooth and productive transition onto the team:
Advice for Van Gundy: "Have a sports consultant design and implement a comprehensive program to develop Sprewell's talent. Sit with Sprewell and come to a consensus on how you should treat one another."
Advice for Sprewell's teammates: "Learn to live with him. As long as Sprewell is producing on the court, don't risk team conflict by voicing your opinions about his character. Go through the team captain if you feel the need to clarify your expectations of Sprewell."
Advice for Sprewell: If he were the team consultant, Ogilvie says he "wouldn't dare" offer Sprewell advice. However, Sprewell might do well to "look at some unconscious stuff that's going on inside of him."
Advice for Van Gundy: "Expect another 'bad day.' Sprewell's history of aggressive and hostile behavior is likely to show up in one form or another in the future. When it does, answer with an iron fist."
Advice for teammates: "Worry about it. The integrity of the game of basketball is at stake. Let Sprewell know that he has to learn to control his temper."
Advice for Sprewell: "Get thee to a pyschologist. None of the touchy-feely stuff. Work with a sports psychologist on identifying what triggers your anger and then develop ways to control it. Anger-management techniques that have helped other athletes include clenching your fists, getting out of the game for a few minutes, or taking a deep breath."
Advice for Van Gundy: "Make sure Sprewell has dealt with his anger-management issues. Then make sure he is comfortable. Establish clear and open communication from both ends and iron out the ground rules up front."
Advice for teammates: "Let Sprewell know that you support him. He should be the one to approach you to assuage any concerns you have. If he doesn't, make your feelings known through the team leader."
Advice for Sprewell: "Don't underestimate the wrath of the public. Suffocating media attention and bitter John Starks fans could push you over the edge. Don't bite the bait."
contributors: Sarah Smith, Allen St. John, Peter Gambaccini, Matthew Yeomans sports editor: Miles D. Seligman
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