Armonee Felder says he has learned a valuable lesson.
The Detroit Osborn senior point guard was suspended for two games — and five days of high school — for punching a Detroit Cornerstone player during a game at Cornerstone last week. He is the younger brother of former Oakland star and current NBA player Kay Felder.
Armonee Felder punched Cornerstone’s Davion Bradford in the third quarter. Attempting to make an inbounds pass, he threw the ball off of Bradford’s leg to avoid a 5-second infraction. Felder said Bradford took exception to the play and aggressively came toward him.
“There shouldn’t have been a fight,” he told the Free Press last week. “I need to make better decisions. I’m really sorry for that.”
Cornerstone coach Derrick Edwards, who reviewed the game film numerous times, said Felder was the “aggressor” and Bradford the “victim.”
Edwards said Felder was not trying to avoid a 5-second violation on the inbounds pass but rather was frustrated by Bradford’s tight defense during the game. Holding the ball with two hands over his head, Felder purposely threw it toward Bradford’s groin area, according to Edwards.
“Davion fell back, clenched his fist and looked toward our bench,” Edwards said. “He never attempted to punch Felder. It was a knee-jerk reaction when he clenched his fist. What would you do if someone threw a ball at your groin?”
After the punch, Felder said he started walking toward Osborn’s bench as players and fans stormed the court.
“It was a hostile environment, people standing and screaming,” Osborn coach Lonell Williams said. “Even before the punch, there were numerous hard fouls and talking back and forth. Prior to the altercation, we should have went to our benches and made a judgment to either carry on with the game or end it.”
Officials called off the game and declared Cornerstone the winner. It led, 42-40, at the time of the incident.
While suspended, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Felder missed Osborn’s 67-47 win over Melvindale AB&T on Friday and an 80-56 win over St. Clair Shores South Lake in its Class B district opener Monday. Osborn is the two-time defending district champion.
Felder is averaging 24 points, eight assists and six rebounds this season and can return for the Knights’ district semifinal against Harper Woods at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Warren Lincoln.
Felder played at Detroit Pershing for his first two years of high school, then transferred to Osborn as a junior. He was academically ineligible to begin this season and missed the team’s first six games.
“It was going to be a good game, and I should have let it keep playing out,” Felder said of Cornerstone. “That’s not who I am, for real. It was just one incident, and there won’t be anymore.
“The suspension could have been for the rest of the year, so I’m very fortunate. I love the support that Osborn has given me, especially coach Williams and my teammates.”
Bradford, who suffered two black eyes and a cut across his nose, went to the hospital after the game and missed the next day of school. He was interviewed by police after the incident, but no criminal charges have been filed against Felder.
Bradford came back to play last week against Detroit Henry Ford, finishing with 14 points. Cornerstone (15-5) faces Detroit Central in a Class C district semifinal at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Detroit Loyola.
Osborn senior forward Kenneth Holloway, who was at the substitution table when Felder threw the punch, stands behind his friend and teammate.
“He’s family, and family sticks together, no matter what,” said Holloway, who is averaging 26 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks. “That’s not our behavior at Osborn. There were people surrounding him, the crowd was surrounding him, putting pressure on him. It was a real hostile environment.”
Felder, who has committed to play basketball at Morehouse College in Atlanta, spoke to his older brother after the incident. Kay Felder is a guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“My brother always keeps it cool with me, no yelling or nothing,” Armonee said. “He keeps it straight with me and says to take care of business. He’s my role model, for sure, and I try to follow his footsteps.”
Williams said he apologized to Cornerstone coach Edwards after the game and doesn’t believe that there will be hostility between the schools moving forward.
“We want positive stories about high school basketball, especially the Detroit Public School League,” Williams said. “This was a black eye for us. We wish it wouldn’t have happened.”