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Mad Ants NBADL

Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
Former Mad Ant Marvin Phillips, left, of Erie, fouls Stephen Graham, front, as Graham takes a shot in the first quarter Thursday at the Coliseum. Graham had 15 points off the bench.

Laettner readies response

– It’s the 20th anniversary of The Shot; the iconic turnaround jumper from the free throw line that Christian Laettner made famous; the last-second miracle bucket off a three-quarter-length pass that gave Duke a 104-103 overtime NCAA tournament victory over Kentucky.

But Laettner, 42, is making different headlines, and not as a 6-foot-11 assistant coach with the NBA Development League Mad Ants.

Laettner is in the midst of legal and real estate difficulties that claim he and business partner Brian Davis are in arrears of personal loans, including a court order to pay former Duke star Johnny Dawkins over $671,000.

Before Thursday’s 95-83 Mad Ants loss to the Erie BayHawks at Memorial Coliseum, Laettner said there will be a statement released “in a few days.”

According to Mad Ants president and general manager Jeff Potter, Laettner’s business dealings haven’t surfaced on the court.

“I know he’s got some issues that have to do with his other issues in real estate,” Potter said. “But those are finance, real estate issues; those aren’t basketball issues.”

Potter says Laettner wants to continue coaching.

“I think he wants to coach; I don’t know if it’s here, or in college, or the NBA,” Potter said. “I think he’s got it in his bones, and I think he’s learned a lot.”

The Ants are still trying to learn how to win. The loss Thursday was their fourth in a row and 17th in the last 20 games.

“We had 24 turnovers. That’s the most we had all year,” an upset Ants coach Steve Gansey said.

“Our two new guys played well. Everybody else has to come together.”

The “new guys” are guard Stephen Graham, who last season played with the New Jersey Nets, and center Vernon Macklin, on loan from the Detroit Pistons.

Macklin had 18 points and 18 rebounds, and Graham had 15 points off the bench.