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Remembering Malik Sealy
by William Wilcoxen
May 22, 2000
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The State Patrol has arrested the driver of the pickup truck that crashed into Malik Sealy early Saturday morning, killing the Minnesota Timberwolves guard. The driver is expected to be charged with criminal vehicular operation. He was allegedly driving the wrong way on Highway 100 in St. Louis Park when he hit Sealy's Range Rover. The State Patrol is still awaiting results of blood tests from both Sealy and the other driver, who is still recuperating from injuries suffered in the crash.

The Timberwolves are beginning to face life after Sealy. A few members of the basketball team's staff and front office spoke about the weekend death of Sealy.

Listen to the news conference by Timberwolves' officials Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders on May 22nd.

WHEN THE TIMBERWOLVES' BRASS usually files into the press room to talk to reporters, they've got plenty to say - what was good or bad about the just-finished game or how they'll prepare for the next big game. But on the first day back at the office after Malik Sealy died, not even Vice-President Kevin McHale was very talkative.

"There really isn't much anybody can say right now," McHale said. "I don't think anybody has anything that's going to make anything better with the situation. There's a huge sense of loss and a huge sense of just sadness has kind of crept in over the shock."

Even amid the shock and grief, the wheels of the team's organization continued turning. Sealy was scheduled to appear Monday at a Saint Louis Park roller rink where the Timberwolves were throwing a celebration in honor of schoolchildren with good grades or perfect attendance.

Jim LaBumbard of the Timberwolves public relations department says Sealy's absence made the "Stay in School" event difficult, but he says it was important not to cancel the celebration. "The thing that we're trying to concentrate on is that it's a celebration for the kids who've done so well in school this past year," he said. "And that is something that Malik would've been proud of these kids and would've wanted the celebration to go on and for us to try and have fun."

LaBumbard says Sealy was known as a player willing and ready to make public appearances and speak to school groups. Timberwolves community relations manager Terrell Battle says for many team staff members, the tragedy of Sealy's death has not had time to sink in. "As an organization, we really haven't had a chance to sit down and talk because this happened over the weekend and a lot of people were in a lot of different places, but in the coming days or the coming weeks, I think we'll try to get together and we'll try to start the healing process," he said.

Some staff members say Sealy's funeral in New York later this week might provide a chance for some of that healing.

The 30-year-old Sealy played for three other NBA teams before he came to Minnesota two years ago. He would've become a free agent this summer but he reportedly told Timberwolves management he wanted to stay in the Twin Cities, largely because he liked the atmosphere and felt close to his teammates and coaches.

Coach Flip Saunders says the closeness on the team makes Sealy's loss more painful, but will also help his teammates heal. "What our team was, that's what he was," said Saunders. "Very unselfish, someone who believed that the team is more important than the individual. And I think that he stood for what we were this past year. He'll be missed but never forgotten."

Malik Sealy is survived by his wife, Lisa, and three-year-old son, Remi.