Basketball: Barkley's boycott threat over banned Sprewell

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Charles Barkley says if the National Basketball Association does not reduce its punishment of Latrell Sprewell, the league's top American players could boycott next summer's World Championship or the league's All-Star Game.

"I think I'd have great support for a boycott," Barkley said yesterday. "I've talked with several players about it. The league is run by the stars and this is something bigger than all of us.

Sprewell's contract was terminated by the Golden State Warriors last Wednesday, costing him the $25m (pounds 15.6m) he was to be paid over the final three years of his four-year deal, for his attack on the Golden State Warriors coach, P J Carlesimo. The league then suspended Sprewell for one year, making him ineligible to be signed by another NBA club until next December.

Meanwhile Sprewell, has apologised for his behaviour and insisted his career should not be ruined after choking and threatening to kill the Carlesimo on 1 December.

"I know this conduct is not acceptable in society and professional sports. I accept responsibility for what I've done," the 27-year-old said. "I am a good person and I've never had any situation like this come up before. I feel 10 years of hard work shouldn't be taken away for one mistake. My career didn't happen overnight and I don't feel it should be taken away overnight. I know I will do a better job controlling my temper and watching what I do."