On This Date: Latrell Sprewell returns to lineup after mysterious hand injury

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November 16, 2002: Latrell Sprewell returns to the Knicks after suffering a broken right hand before training camp

Latrell Sprewell returned to the Knicks after missing the entire preseason and first eight games of the regular season with a right hand injury. Spree came off the bench to score 16 points in a 93-92 loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. Current assistant coach Howard Eisley (then Knicks point guard) had a double double with 16 points and 10 assists. The Knicks had an 8 point lead at the middle of the 4th quarter, but gave up the entire lead as the 76ers scored 17 of the final 25 points of the game. The loss dropped the Knicks to a 1-8 record.

Spree infamously came into training camp with a broken right hand suffered in a boating accident. There were conflicting reports on what exactly happened on the boating trip. Spree’s agent claimed it was due to dealing with choppy waters. However, other witnesses claimed Spree got into a fight with someone on the boat after an argument.

Sprewell would later try to sue Marc Berman and the New York Post for reporting that he broke his right little finger in a fight on his boat, but the case was dismissed.

Sprewell was consequently fined $250,000 for not informing the team of the injury and was told to stay away from the team until further notice. The fine eventually ballooned to $437,500.

The boating accident was the final straw in the front office’s dealings with Sprewell. While Spree was popular with fans, he often angered the front office and Dolan with failing to show up to mandatory events, including a media training session (leading to the infamous media policy) and team shootarounds.