Hornets’ rookie P.J Hairston apologizes to Hornets fans for “distraction”

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Things not to do between getting drafted and signing your first NBA contract include getting criminal charges pressed against you. In fact that’s right about at the top of the list.

Hornets first round pick P.J. Hairston failed that — he has been charged with assault and battery in Durham, North Carolina, for punching a high school senior at a pick-up game.

This week Hairston was at the Hornets’ facility and meeting new teammates, start working out for Summer League — and to issue a statement of apology. To the fans anyway.

“I want to apologize to the Hornets organization and our fans for creating this distraction. As this is now a legal matter, I cannot comment on the situation any further. I am truly sorry for any embarrassment that I have caused.”

The Hornets continue to officially say they are aware of the situation and are following the legal process.

Kentrell Barkley, the guy who got punched, spoke to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer about what happened.

“We were playing and he said to one of his guys, ‘He can’t go right. He always goes left,’ ” Barkley said. “I said, ‘I just went right.’ That was all I said.

“They inbounded the ball to him and he ran right at me. He made a fist and hit me in the forehead. He went ahead and scored at the other end.

“Then I went up to him and asked him what that was all about. I didn’t cuss him or anything. Then he punched me in the neck. I didn’t hit him or even throw a punch. I was stunned. There had been nothing to provoke it.”

Hairston’s agent Juan Morrow tells a different story, saying Barkley instigated by pushing Hairston and both of them threw punches and connected.

Now the legal system gets to decide whose story wins out. Which is not the way to start your rookie season.