Denver Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin is denying responsibility for a verbal altercation that took place Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center between a heckling fan and a guest of the player seated near the team bench.
"I know the person, but I didn't direct nobody to go into the stands," Martin said at a Thursday morning Nuggets practice. "I was watching the game."
An NBA spokesman late Thursday said the league is looking into the incident.
Team officials and Denver police, meanwhile, offered clashing accounts of the controversy swirling around Martin, the most highly paid player in team history, who is injured and now the subject of numerous trade rumors.
One fan, Don Miller, of Parker, was sitting in row five, section 144.
Miller said the incident started early in the third period when another fan two rows behind him yelled at Martin, "Suit up, you chump."
According to Miller, Martin's friend came up into the stands, apparently confused about who made the comment. He approached Miller, calling him a "fat (expletive) white boy," Miller said.
"I said 'Bro, it was not me — it's the guy two rows up.'"
Miller said that fan, a college-age man from Laramie, was then confronted by Martin's friend. Miller said he heard Martin's friend say, "I'm going to take you out back and kick your butt."
Martin, according to Miller, was watching closely.
"If this guy had stood up and come up to defend Kenyon Martin on his own, without Kenyon Martin telling him to do it, I would not be talking to you now," said Miller, who attended the game with his 15-year-old son.
"But Kenyon Martin stood up, pointed up, and directed him. He did all these little actions to bring him up there. That's horrible."
Paul Andrews, executive vice president of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, said an internal probe by the Nuggets concluded that one of Martin's guests had approached a fan.
"We don't know exactly what (the fan) said," said Andrews. "We have conflicting stories. But we know that whatever the fan had said to Kenyon was not an ejectionable remark," such as profanity.
"Kenyon Martin, according to the eyewitnesses at our bench, did not provoke. He did not get up and ask anyone to do this," said Andrews. "His friend acted on his own, and we are dealing with that internally."
Denver police spokeswoman Detective Virginia Lopez gave a different version.
"Kenyon Martin is sitting on the bench when a fan begins to heckle him," said Lopez. "Martin stands up, turns around and addresses the fan. Then he sits back down."
After the game, while the fan was speaking with security personnel and officers, Lopez said, Martin and two of his associates exchanged words with the fan.
Miller, who believes the initial security response was inadequate, said he and the fan from Wyoming were discussing the earlier episode with security and police when Martin appeared with two companions.
"Kenyon Martin walks back out of the locker room, and he's with a guy in a Yankees hat and another guy, and he says, 'Ya'll just need to shut up.' He says, 'This guy called me a punk,' pointing to the fan from Wyoming," Miller said.
"I say, 'Mr. Martin, he didn't call you a punk, he called you a chump.' He said, 'You, shut up.' "
Miller wants an apology from the team — and doesn't plan to attend any more games this season.
Martin, who joined the Nuggets in 2004 in exchange for three future first-round picks and is being paid $92.5 million on a seven-year deal, said he had not been interviewed as part of the team's probe.
"Why would I?" Martin asked. "If I didn't do nothing, why would there be a question?"
Martin was asked the identity of his guest.
Martin, who aggravated a knee injury at practice a week ago, did not play in Wednesday's game, in which the Nuggets lost 110-107 to the Chicago Bulls.
Andrews said late Thursday the Nuggets organization was researching whether the involved fan was a season ticket holder.
"We do not in any way condone the individual that was one of Kenyon's guests," Andrews said.
Nuggets general manager Kiki Vandeweghe defended the way the incident was handled.
"We have great security here," said Vandeweghe. "They responded very, very quickly. They are, in my view, some of the best in the business."
Martin, on Thursday, shrugged off whatever comments any fan might have made.
"Of course you're going to hear stuff during the course of the game," Martin said. "Good, bad, it doesn't matter. I'm not going to acknowledge it."
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