Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 3/1/12

Sports Illustrated did in one article what Ben Howland could not accomplish in three years: hold Reeves Nelson accountable for being a jerk. SI exposed Nelson for being a bully who injured teammates during practice, fought them, and intimidated them, all without coach Ben Howland saying anything. Howland chose to play Nelson over other talented players, causing at least one player to transfer (Mike Moser, who’s now starring at UNLV). Howland’s lack of discipline resulted in another talented player transferring (Matt Carlino, now starring at BYU) because he was constantly bullied. After Reeves’ troublemaker ways became too much, Howland finally kicked him off the team. By then the damage was done, and choosing to allow Reeves to run free hurt the program the past few years and this season.

Nelson actually confirmed the bullying incidents to SI and seemed to take responsibility for his actions.

Nelson confirmed all these incidents to SI and expressed his regret, saying, “On all that stuff, I have no trouble admitting that I lost control of my emotions sometimes. I take responsibility for my actions. I’m really just trying to learn from the mistakes I made on all levels.”

Nelson went to play pro ball in Lithuania after being kicked off the UCLA team and only lasted five weeks. Now that he’s in a bad spot he’s finally expressing regret. But guess what? He hired a lawyer who sent a letter to SI demanding a retraction.

The lawyer’s letter states:

Every single one of Dohrmann’s accusations and claims about Nelson set forth above is categorically false. What sources, if any, fed him this vicious and defamatory nonsense? Dohrmann fails to identify any of these sources in his article, although he claims to have spoken to “more than a dozen players and staff members from the past four Bruins teams.” If Dohrmann bothered to speak with any of Nelson’s claimed “victims” (as he repeatedly refers to them in this screed), he would learn that none of these events ever happened.

Nelson did not confirm any of these alleged incidents to Dohrmann nor to anyone else at Sports Illustrated. He did not confirm any of these alleged incidents to Dohrmann because Dohrmann never asked Nelson about them during their one extremely brief telephone call. Dohrmann never asked him about his alleged bullying, or the urinating story, or the purported fight between Nelson and Gordon which left Gordon with a black eye. Nelson’s statements quoted by Dohrmann in the article were made in reference to the reasons behind his dismissal from the team.

The lawyer is accusing George Dohrmann of fabricating quotes, which is just as damaging of an accusation as anything written about Nelson in the article. Just when Reeves was finally admitting faults and saying he was going to learn from his mistakes, we have a lawyer around to help excuse him. Once again Reeves is being protected for his poor behavior. Sadly someone isn’t learning a lesson taught by the SI article — discipline is critical and bad behavior should not be excused.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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