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Forte Declines to Accept Move to IL

January 22, 2003

SEATTLE (AP) _ Seattle SuperSonics reserve guard Joseph Forte feels he spent enough time on the injured list last season.

He doesn’t want to go back now.

Forte said Tuesday he declined a request by Sonics management to go on the injured list earlier this month, saying he didn’t believe a sore ankle was serious enough to warrant the move.

``It’s not insubordination,″ Forte said. ``I have a choice and they understand it. They can’t antagonize me every day.″

Sonics general manager Rick Sund declined comment except to confirm he made the request, initially reported by the News Tribune of Tacoma. Coach Nate McMillan also declined comment.

Under NBA rules, a player can’t be placed on the injured list without his consent unless the injury _ a broken leg, for example _ would make it impossible to perform.

However, teams routinely put players on the injured list with ailments such as tendinitis or muscle sprains. Any player who goes on the injured list must sit out at least five games.

Forte said he was asked to accept the move Jan. 7 when the Sonics played at the Los Angeles Lakers, a 119-98 loss, and again before a 90-88 loss to the L.A. Clippers three days later.

Before tipoff against the Lakers, Seattle activated center Jerome James, who had missed two months with a stress fracture in his foot. Rookie forward Reggie Evans went on the injured list with a sprained right shoulder.

At the time, team officials said Forte was needed as a possible backup to Gary Payton because of injuries that had slowed but not sidelined guards Brent Barry and Kenny Anderson.

The Sonics, meanwhile, have missed Evans, who made the team as an undrafted free agent and started 23 games. He averaged 2.4 points and 4.6 rebounds before going on the injured list.

Evans remains on the injured list but continues to practice.

Forte has played in eight games all season, scoring 11 points. He has played once since the Lakers game, going scoreless in three minutes in a Jan. 12 loss to Cleveland.

Last season as a rookie with the Boston Celtics, Forte spent 56 games on the injured list. He missed 26 games with a right ankle sprain, 25 with a left ankle sprain and five with lower back spasms.

``It made me a stronger player and person,″ said Forte, part of the trade that sent Vin Baker to Boston. ``It made me face a lot of adversity. It was a tough year for me. It was almost a negative, but I was able to stay focused.″

Though he’s stuck behind Payton and Anderson in the Seattle lineup, Forte said he feels he’s learning from the veterans, and that’s why he was reluctant to give up possible playing time.

``I’m a competitor,″ Forte said. ``I don’t understand how management could look poorly upon a player who wants to play and is eager and willing. That can’t be anything but a positive.″

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