Illawarra Hawks president and co-owner Dorry Kordahi has slammed comments made by Sydney Kings counterpart Paul Smith pertaining to a training session prior to a cancelled preseason NBL match between the two clubs, saying they were "bordering on defamation of character".
Smith on Tuesday accused Kordahi of "spying" at the training session in late November, telling radio station SEN of his disappointment.
But Kordahi on Wednesday flat out rejected the allegation, releasing a statement that detailed why such an act could not have been possible.
"I have been made aware of comments made by Sydney Kings chairman Paul Smith on radio Tuesday, pertaining to a situation at a Kings training session prior to the canceled preseason NBL Blitz game between the Hawks and the Kings at the WIN Entertainment Centre," the statement read.
"I am extremely disappointed with the comments made by Smith, particularly those that were disrespectful to me and were nothing short of a personal attack, questioning my integrity and bordering on defamation of character.
"Smith's comments were also inaccurate in many ways. Here are the facts:
"1. Sydney was scheduled to train on the court between 10:30am and 1pm. AT NO TIME did I or our Hawks staff member who accompanied me enter the arena between the times they were conducting their scheduled training.
"2. We first entered the arena floor at 1:05pm to access the outside concourse. There was no other way to enter other than via the arena. We were there for less than one minute and NOT ONCE were we asked to leave by any Sydney Kings staff member.
"3. We re-entered the arena at 1:15pm to conduct a review of corporate seating and floor configurations. At that time, a number of Kings players were sitting down, and a couple were conducting individual shooting drills. At this time, in our view, we believed the Kings had concluded their official team training session. Again, NOT ONCE were we asked to leave by any Sydney Kings staff member in attendance.
"4. I received a text message from Sydney Kings CEO Chris Pongrass at 1:23pm asking me to leave politely, to which I politely complied. During this time, messages between Paul, Chris, and myself were exchanged acknowledging the situation and their views.
"5. To accuse me of 'spying' is quite frankly silly and ridiculous and speaks to a Kings 'culture' of paranoia, distrust and antagonism.
"Smith also made claims on radio that I "have been dismissive of league staff, loose with protocols, and generally disrespectful to people around the league". This is utterly, blatantly false, and I would challenge Smith to provide any evidence of this.
"In fact, I have the utmost respect for the National Basketball League. I have a very strong relationship with both Larry Kestelman, Jeremy Loeliger, officials, and with many other owners and CEOs across the league, and I have been proactively working with other clubs to try and better the league and provide more positive commercial outcomes.
"To illustrate this, prior to the Hawks game against the Adelaide 36ers in round one, I had a very productive breakfast meeting with the 36ers chairman and owner Grant Kelley, after which I invited Grant to attend the Hawks training session with me that day.
"As for the claims by Smith around the code of conduct and protocols - again, I would ask that Smith would provide evidence of my being 'loose' with protocols or ignoring the code of conduct. Our operations manager has more than 15 years of experience in the NBL and understands league protocols exceptionally well and I work closely with him and our team to comply with all league requirements.
"Additionally, Paul's lack of understanding of the history of the Sydney Kings is blatantly obvious when he said that I was an owner of the Kings in June 2013. This is incorrect. I was a part-owner of the club during the 2007-2008 season before the organisation folded.
"What Paul obviously doesn't know is that I also headed up a group that raised one million dollars in less than three weeks in an attempt to save the Kings prior to their expulsion from the league. This was reported on by Tim Morrissey of the Daily Telegraph. I had every intention of ensuring the survival of the Kings at the time.
"I have been involved in the sport of basketball for more than 35 years. It is a sport to which I have dedicated much of my life, a sport that has given me so much, and I can hold my head high knowing that in all aspects of my life, be they personal, commercial, or in the sporting arena, I always conduct myself with honesty and integrity at all times.
"I am appalled by the public attack on me launched by Paul Smith and I don't condone that kind of behavior."
Paul Smith was contacted by ESPN after the release from Kordahi. Smith maintained the stance that the presence of opposition staff in the building while the Kings were completing practice was inappropriate and unheard of in a professional sporting environment.
The Hawks and Kings are due to meet in Sydney in Round 2 of the NBL on Saturday afternoon.