After exploring several other measures national basketball player Dwayne `Brown Sugar’ Roberts has placed the fate of his basketball career and what is left of his reputation in the hands of the governing body of the sport, the Guyana Amateur Basketball Federation (GABF).
Roberts has been banned by the Linden Amateur Basketball Association (LABA) for six years for allegedly throwing a ball at a referee and “openly berating Association (LABA) officials in the public.”
In his account, Roberts stated that the ball accidentally hit the official during the game and he has been unjustly vilified by LABA.
The 30-year old member of the Retrieve Raiders Basketball Club told Stabroek Sport that he was hoping that the national federation can intervene at this crucial point with a decisive pronouncement on the issue.
Apart from being publically painted as a violent and indisciplined player, Roberts said he had also been detained by the police and continues to suffer from the backlash of this incident.
LABA, originally banned the national power forward for six months and fined him, $15,000 but later increased the ban to six years due to Roberts’ alleged “emotional outburst”.
The ban also prohibits Roberts from attending games and participating in all basketball related activities during the time.
Speaking with Stabroek Sport, Roberts said that he has appealed to the GABF in keeping with its constitution and is hoping that they will adjudicate fairly as he feels he has been the victim of an injustice by LABA.
Roberts asserts that the original ban was unjust and unfair considering the situation adding that the increase of the ban to six years is unbelievable.
No motive or basis
Roberts stated that on the night of the incident in question, he was having a good game and had no reason to be upset at the referee. He said that after the referee blew his whistle, he passed the ball to the referee as players habitually do to assist officials.
The ball hit the official, who he subsequently apologised to, but his gesture was misconstrued as a violent one.
Players are supposed to stop play and relinquish possession of the basketball giving the referees full command at that moment. Referees usually retrieve the ball on their own after the stoppage of play, but players have been known to habitually speed up the play of the game by passing the ball to referees. The manner in which the ball is passed may reflect the tension of the game and is open to interpretation by officials said Roberts.
He claimed at that this stage of the game, the momentum was in his team’s favour. He had already scored 18 points while only picking up two fouls. Additionally, Roberts said that the referee’s call was not even directed at him and although his team had been trailing by two-points, there was over nine minutes remaining in the game..
According to Roberts many of the patrons at the venue at that night had openly heckled and questioned the referee’s general judgment on a few plays. After the referee was accidently hit by the ball, Roberts stated that members of the crowd may have viewed it as poetic justice and began to further taunt and tantalize the official after he was hit. These factors combined are what Roberts conceived was responsible for the incident being misconstrued, exaggerated and taken out of context by the referee and LABA officials.
Roberts said that he appealed to the LABA to have patrons, eyewitnesses or even neutral members of the community to have a say in a new hearing to reduce any prejudices but LABA refused this suggestion.
Already suffering from a tarnished reputation, and deprived of playing the sport that he has played at the highest level for close to 15 years, Roberts is pleading to the GABF to help him clear his name and be reinstated as a player.
Roberts stated that he wishes to get back to competitive basketball as he looks to prepare for the Caribbean Basketball Championships later this year to represent Guyana once again. According to Roberts there is no reason why good sense and justice as he sees is it should not prevail after the GABF would have examined the facts and the spoken with persons knowledgeable of the matter.
“The GABF executives have shown me from the time they took office, there is a great emphasis in the development of the game using a fair approach so I have confidence in the executives to adjudicate over the matter,” Roberts stated.