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Manager: Smith Denied Participating In Barroom Brawl

July 30, 1996

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) _ Joe says it ain’t so.

The general manager of the Golden State Warriors said Monday that Joe Smith told him he was not involved in a barroom brawl last week.

``Joe’s side of the story is a lot different than what I read in the paper,″ said Dave Twardzik, who flew to Norfolk from Oakland on Saturday to talk with Smith. ``It certainly was well worth the trip to come out.″

Smith, 21, turned himself in Sunday to face a malicious wounding charge, a felony punishable by five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Carlton Coney, a male dancer at Ridley’s Restaurant and Lounge in Chesapeake, Va., contends the 6-foot-10 Smith struck him with a beer bottle during a melee about 1 a.m. Friday, opening a gash that required 22 stitches.

Twardzik said Smith insisted he walked away when the brawl broke out.

``He’s very concerned,″ Twardzik said. ``I’m sure this is the first time he’s ever experienced anything like this. You look at his past, he’s never been in any kind of trouble before.″

Twardzik declined comment on what impact a felony conviction might have on Smith’s $8.53 million, three-year contract with the Warriors. Smith, a power forward for the Warriors, played two years at Maryland before entering the NBA draft last year. He was the No. 1 pick of the Warriors.

Smith’s lawyer, David Delpierre, said Smith has cooperated fully with police in their investigation.

``Once the facts are fully developed, we’re confident Joe’s name will be cleared,″ Delpierre said.

David Turner, another dancer, said Smith and a group of about 10 others became angry when the dancers wouldn’t end their show by midnight, when Smith’s 21st birthday party was to begin. The dancers said Smith and the group wanted the floor to themselves.

Two women who were at the club said the group with Smith repeatedly disrupted the male dancers on the stage. However, Janine Williams of Virginia Beach and Jennifer Taff of Hampton could not identify Smith as the one who struck Coney.

The women said the Smith group had been loud and abusive all evening, and that a fight broke out as the dancers were finishing their act.

``There were 10 guys stomping on (Coney) and beating him,″ Ms. Williams said. ``They pushed him over a railing and they were punching him and kicking him.″

She said as Coney tried to cover up his head and face, someone picked up a large glass and slammed it against Coney’s shoulders.

``It’s all a blur,″ Ms. Williams said. ``Next thing I know, all I see is blood gushing down his back. The blood is coming out his back like a fountain. They were beating him so bad.″

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