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Armstrong arrested after police scuffle

Darrell Armstrong of the Magic was arrested early Monday after being accused of fighting with a female police officer outside a nightclub.

The nine-year veteran guard was charged with battery on a law-enforcement officer and resisting arrest without violence. He was released after posting $1,000 bond.

Armstrong tried to enter a full taxi and, upset over being denied a ride, he stood in traffic, Orlando police Sgt. Orlando Rolon said.

When Officer Teresa Joyce tried to get Armstrong out of the street, he scuffled with her and other officers before being arrested, police said.

Joyce severely sprained her left middle and ring fingers trying to restrain Armstrong, Rolon said.

Magic general manager John Gabriel said he was surprised at the news but wouldn't comment further. Armstrong's agent, Glenn Schwartzman, did not return calls.

Upon his release, Armstrong said he slapped the officer's hand away but said he was provoked.

"Don't put your hands on me, that's all I'm saying," said Armstrong, who had rips in his shirt. "I only knocked her hand."

Later Monday, at a children's basketball instructional camp bearing his name, he was apologetic.

"It was just an unfortunate accident that probably should've never happened on both parts," he said.

Judge: Spre can sue paper

NEW YORK _ A state Supreme Court judge ruled that Knicks guard Latrell Sprewell can proceed with his $40-million lawsuit against the New York Post and one of its writers, saying statements made by the News Corp. tabloid may be considered libelous.

The Post had sought dismissal of the suit, which Sprewell filed against the paper and staff writer Marc Berman.

Sprewell accused the tabloid of publishing "damaging fabrications" about how he broke his hand. Spre-well missed the first eight games of last season because of the injury, which the paper said occurred during an altercation on his boat.

The newspaper reported Sprewell broke his hand after throwing a punch at a man aboard his yacht, citing two unidentified eyewitnesses.

The suit said the articles were "published with actual malice, exposing Mr. Sprewell to public ridicule, contempt, aversion, disgrace and induced evil opinions of him in the minds of right-thinking persons."

Judge Marcy S. Friedman in her ruling wrote that the statements in the Post's articles are "reasonably susceptible" to be considered defamatory and such statements would, if believed by the jury, constitute libel.

The NBA in 1997 suspended Sprewell for 68 games for choking Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo. The Post said that case had damaged Sprewell's reputation and cited it as a reason to dismiss the lawsuit. But Friedman ruled Sprewell's reputation could be further damaged.

BLAZERS' STOUDAMIRE ARRESTED: Portland's Damon Stoudamire was arrested on marijuana charges after he tried to pass through an airport metal detector with almost 1{ ounces of the drug wrapped in aluminum foil, police said.

The Trail Blazers guard was stopped at the Tucson, Ariz., airport Thursday as he prepared to board a flight. He was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Police said he was carrying almost 40 grams of marijuana.

After Stoudamire set off the metal detector, he placed the drug and rolling papers into a plastic security bin, police said. Security officials then summoned police.

Blazers president Steve Patterson said Stoudamire would be suspended until there is a "satisfactory response to these matters" and that the team is working with union representatives to get him into a drug rehabilitation program. Patterson said he would void Stoudamire's contract if he could but hasn't found a provision in the contract that would allow him to do so.

Stoudamire, released on his own recognizance, has been arrested twice before on drug charges. If convicted of the latest charges, he would face a mandatory sentence of one day in jail.

Stoudamire is attending summer school at the University of Arizona, working toward a media arts degree, with a minor in sports broadcasting.

BUCKS: Free-agent guard Gary Payton won't return after declining an offer from the team, GM Larry Harris said.

KNICKS: First-round pick Mike Sweetney of Georgetown signed a three-year contract and will make about $4.95-million under the terms of the league's rookie pay scale.