- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Early Sunday morning, while the rest of the Washington Wizards were in New York preparing to meet the Knicks later in the day, point guard Rod Strickland was in the custody of the law again.

Strickland, 34, was arrested and charged with a pair of misdemeanors driving under the influence and the refusal to submit to a breathalyzer while operating his vehicle on the George Washington Parkway at 3:22 a.m.

"I met with Rod Strickland this afternoon and we discussed the incident," said Michael Jordan, the Wizards president of basketball operations, in a statement released by the team yesterday. "Due to the continuing legal process that situations like this must follow, it would not be appropriate to comment further."

According to Sgt. Robert MacLean of the U.S. Park Police, Strickland was observed driving a gold late-model Lincoln Navigator northbound near CIA Headquarters, south of Route 123 in McLean, Va. The police report indicated that the arresting officer pulled over Strickland because the car was "swerving in a dangerous fashion."

As the officer spoke to Strickland, he detected the odor of alcohol coming from the interior of the vehicle. The officer then ordered Strickland out of the automobile and administered three sobriety tests the one-legged stand, a walk and turn and follow the lighted object. It is believed Strickland failed each of the tests.

At that point Strickland was arrested for DUI and taken to the District One Station located at Hains Point, where he refused to take a breathalyzer. Strickland's refusal resulted in another charge, the refusal to take a chemical test.

Strickland was released later Sunday morning. A court date has been set for Jan. 30 at the U.S. magistrate in Alexandria.

Strickland completed a year's probation and 30 hours of community service work for a 1998 conviction for driving under the influence. He was acquitted of a similar charge in 1999.

In November, Strickland was charged with a refusing to leave a nightclub after it had been shut down by fire marshals. Those charges were dropped.

In 1997, Strickland got into a fistfight with then teammate Tracy Murray after a game in Charlotte, N.C.

In 1995, while playing with the Trail Blazers, Strickland was arrested in New York and charged with hitting a former girlfriend. He pleaded guilty and was ordered to attend a therapy program for batterers.

Strickland, who didn't make the trip to New York with the team and won't be in Milwaukee tonight when the Wizards face the Bucks, has not played since he was benched on Dec. 27. The following day Strickland was suspended for missing a pair of practices, a doctor's appointment and the team plane for a game in Miami on Dec. 29. The suspension cost Strickland $111,111.

In 29 games this season, Strickland has averaged 13 points and 7.3 assists. Chris Whitney, in seven games as Strickland's replacement, has averaged 15.6 points and eight assists.

Team officials did not give any indication as to what the punishment, if any, would be for Strickland's latest transgressions. However it is clear Strickland, who wants out of Washington in the worst way, and his act is wearing thin on the Wizards.

As the incidents continue to mount, the idea of trading Strickland becomes less likely. Teams still are interested in Strickland, but there are some problems. Because he is a base-compensation player meaning any team trading for him must be at least $2.5 million under the $34.5 million salary cap at least until Feb. 3 trading Strickland is nearly impossible. The fact that he frequently runs afoul of the law has no doubt diminished his trade value around the league.

"You have to look at that with red flags popping up everywhere," one Eastern Conference general manager said. "I mean, you look at the price tag, the age and the trouble and you're talking about baggage. Big-time baggage. In this era, who can take that gamble?"

Strickland has two years remaining on his $10 million-a-year contract. The Wizards can buy out Strickland for $5 million, something they could do today if they chose to. That possibility is unlikely because the $10 million salary would still go against the team's cap.

Strickland made his last appearance with the team on Dec. 27 against the Knicks. Strickland played just 18 minutes that night because he skipped the previous day's practice. On Dec. 31 Strickland asked out of a game complaining of sore hamstrings.

Strickland notified the team that day that he would request a second opinion of his condition. Four days later an MRI revealed that Strickland had slightly torn muscles in his left shoulder. There has been no update on the Wizards' original diagnosis of Strickland's sore hamstrings.

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