Carmelo Anthony was cited for marijuana possession while boarding the team plane last week, though the Denver Nuggets star says the bag was left in his backpack by a friend.
Anthony, 20, was issued a summons last Friday at Denver International Airport while the Nuggets were waiting to board a flight to Milwaukee for a preseason game.
"I am innocent of this charge because I did not use or intentionally possess marijuana. I had no idea that there was marijuana in my backpack," Anthony read from a statement before Thursday's exhibition game in Los Angeles. "I sincerely regret any embarrassment this unfortunate incident has had on my family, supporters and the Denver Nuggets organization. They have always stood by me, and that means the world to me."
Anthony's attorney, Daniel Recht, said that the marijuana was left there by an out-of-town friend who borrowed the backpack last week.
"The friend obviously uses marijuana and left a small amount in the backpack when he returned it to Carmelo," Recht said. "Carmelo had no idea there was any marijuana in the backpack."
Anthony was charged with possessing less than 1 ounce of marijuana, a petty offense with a maximum $100 fine and no jail time.
Recht said Anthony's friend, James Cunningham of St. Louis, has signed an affidavit taking responsibility for leaving the marijuana in the backpack. Recht said he has met with a city attorney and believes the citation against his client could be dismissed as soon as today.
BOBCATS RELEASE GUARD: Guard Corey Benjamin was released by the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday. Benjamin signed as a free agent on July 29. In three preseason games, he scored two points with five rebounds in 23 minutes. A first-round pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1998, Benjamin played for the Bobcats in the Minnesota summer league. He played four positions in five games and averaged 7.4 points and 1.8 rebounds.
In Thursday night's NBA action:
TRAIL BLAZERS 88, RAPTORS 85: At Toronto, Zach Randolph had 34 points and 17 rebounds to give Portland a preseason victory over Toronto.
NUGGETS 100, CLIPPERS 88: At Los Angeles, Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points for the Nuggets in their win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Corey Maggette scored 18 points for the Clippers, short-handed because of knee injuries to Elton Brand and newcomer Kerry Kittles.
MAVERICKS 112, KNICKS 74: At Dallas, Jason Terry and Josh Howard each scored 17 points and Dallas Mavericks cruised over New York (2-2). Erick Dampier added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Mavericks (1-3).
MAGIC 92, HORNETS 91: At Biloxi, Miss., Cuttino Mobley scored 25 points and Steve Francis added 19, leading Orlando over New Orleans. Dwight Howard, the No. 1 pick overall in this year's draft, scored 15 points for Orlando.
ROCKETS 98, BULLS 78: At Houston, Tracy McGrady had 27 points and Yao Ming 20, and Houston (3-1) rode three impressive runs to a preseason victory over Chicago. Luol Deng, the 19-year-old rookie from Duke, led the Bulls with 20 points. Eddy Curry added 17.
GRIZZLIES 97, BUCKS 75: At Memphis, Tenn., Jason Williams scored 16 points and had five assists to lead Memphis over Milwaukee. Williams made six of 10 shots and scored half his points in a one-minute stretch of the fourth period, helping Memphis pull away in the final nine minutes. Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift added 14 points each for Memphis. Michael Redd was the only player in double figures for Milwaukee.
76ERS 97, SPURS 95 (OT): At San Antonio, Andre Iguodala scored five of his 13 points in overtime — including a 3 with 40.9 seconds left — to lead Philadelphia over San Antonio. Allen Iverson and Corliss Williamson led the 76ers with 14 points apiece. Both were on the bench in overtime, as was Spurs center Tim Duncan, who led his team with 18 points and 11 rebounds in 25 minutes.