Reeves Nelson reportedly suing Sports Illustrated for $10 million

Nearly three months after an ugly expose on the UCLA basketball program was published in Sports Illustrated, former Bruins standout Reeves Nelson has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the magazine, according to TMZ.

The minefield of a story, first released online in late February, paints the UCLA program as a mess, alleging a slew of misdeeds by players on and off the court, not limited to dropping ecstasy, smoking weed and deliberately ignoring coaches’ orders. Nelson, in particular, is portrayed as a total tool who intentionally tried to injure teammates in practice and even peed on teammate Tyler Honeycutt‘s clothes for allegedly snitching about a New Year’s Eve rave. Meanwhile, coach Ben Howland is depicted as somebody who more or less turned the other cheek to the bad behavior.

Nelson, who was kicked off the team in December for a recent string of misconduct, mounted up by hiring entertainment lawyer Keith Fink, who sent a letter to SI shortly after the story’s publication demanding a retraction, saying the expose’s author, George Dohrmann, fabricated portions of the story. Obviously SI didn’t budge.

Now Nelson has filed suit against the publication, and, according to TMZ, Fink said they have proof that Dohrmann “recklessly and negligently failed to investigate the claims in the article.” The lawsuit cites 18 current and former players who deny the allegations leveled against Nelson in the story. Honeycutt also reportedly said that Nelson “did not urinate on my clothes.”

Even if the suit is successful, it probably still won’t do much to undo the negative perception people have of Nelson. Or any possibility that he actually pooped on Honeycutt’s clothes instead.

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Reeves Nelson says SI took apology out of context, almost all stories are false

Reeves Nelson already had a bad reputation for being kicked off the UCLA basketball team for poor behavior, but what remained of it was shredded by a damning article published in Sports Illustrated this week. Reeves reacted swiftly and hired a lawyer who sent a letter to SI demanding a retraction. He continued the damage control with an interview on NBC Los Angeles Thursday night.

In the interview, Nelson says Sports Illustrated writer George Dohrmann took his remorseful apology out of context. He also says almost all the stories in the article are false.

“My attitude towards the team and the program as a whole just was very immature,” Nelson said of the behavior that led to his dismissal. “I was defiant, I walked out of a team practice without coach’s permission, I missed a team flight to Maui — which obviously doesn’t look good — you never want to do. And then, I think the final straw was when I was just showing disrespect by laughing on the bench at the end of a loss against Texas.

“That’s why I was really dismissed, and those were the mistakes I was speaking about when I gave my original statement,” Nelson said.

Sports Illustrated responded to the demand for a retraction and stood by Dohrmann, saying “Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated unequivocally stand behind George Dohrmann’s story, Not the UCLA Way. Dohrmann has multiple sources on the facts uncovered during his reporting. This includes a detailed conversation with Mr. Nelson in which he was given an opportunity to respond to the facts and, to his credit, he did.”

Nelson contradicts SI’s statement and described his conversation with Dohrmann as brief, and one where he did little protesting because he figured Dohrmann made his mind up about the article and was going to write it regardless of what some “punk kid” would say (Nelson seemed to really lose credibility when making that statement). He disputes the accuracy of the article.

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Reeves Nelson hires lawyer who demands retraction from SI for pointing out Reeves was jerk

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:

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Reeves Nelson Kicked Off UCLA for Bad Behavior

Six games and two indefinite suspensions into his junior season, Reeves Nelson has finally been kicked off the UCLA basketball team. Nelson had a strong freshman season, averaging 11.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Bruins. He was one of the top players on the squad last season, averaging 13.9 points and 9.1 boards per game. But after being a poor teammate this season and failing to change, he was kicked off the squad.

Nelson received his first suspension after missing a team meeting the day after the Bruins lost their season opener to Loyola Marymount. He was reinstated after being forced to miss the next game — a loss to Middle Tennessee State. Next, Nelson missed the team’s flight to Maui and had to sit out the first half of their game against Chaminade. He was benched at the end of the team’s loss to Texas. Coach Ben Howland suspended him indefinitely after his poor behavior on the bench that game. Howland finally kicked Nelson off the team Friday.

“Here I am, on the road again….. There I gooooooo. Turn the page,” Nelson tweeted Friday.

What sucks beyond the disappointing season, is what Nelson cost the team. UNLV sophomore Mike Moser leads the country in rebounding. He transferred from UCLA because he didn’t get enough playing time his freshman year for the Bruins. Had UCLA gone with Moser over Nelson, they would likely be in much better shape.

UCLA is becoming a mess this season, but we can only hope the dismissal of Reeves cleans up the locker room. And we can only hope Ben Howland makes better personnel decisions in the future.

Reeves Nelson Misses UCLA’s Team Bus to Airport, Flight to Maui

Reeves Nelson sat out the first half of UCLA’s 92-60 win over Chaminade at the Maui Invitational Monday as punishment for missing the team’s flight to Hawaii Saturday.

Nelson missed the team’s bus to the airport and flight to Maui Saturday, so he ended up on a separate flight. He also missed a players’ banquet in Hawaii, and coach Ben Howland kept him from the media leading up to the game. The junior forward scored one point and grabbed five rebounds in 11 second-half minutes of UCLA’s first victory of the season.

Not only was Nelson’s move pretty boneheaded for obvious reasons, but it comes a week after he was suspended for being late to a team meeting the day after the squad lost its season opener to Loyola Marymount. There were reports suggesting Nelson was considering transferring. He was reinstated after missing the team’s loss to Middle Tennessee State.

Reeves is probably UCLA’s best player, and as a junior, he’s expected to be a team leader. Being late to team meetings and team buses is the antithesis of setting a good example. If the team is going to have success this season, they’ll need him to stop being a knucklehead and get with the program.