Thabo Sefolosha is still recovering from his broken leg and has refused to accept a plea deal after a run-in with the NYPD on the night former Pacer Chris Copeland was stabbed outside a New York nightclub. That night and encounter left Sefolosha with a broken leg that required surgery and kept him out of the playoffs.
Former Atlanta Hawks big man Pero Antic was with Sefolosha that night as the two men went out after arriving in the city with their teammates. Antic was arrested that evening and charged obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment. Those charges were eventually dropped.
Antic left the NBA this summer, deciding on returning to Europe to play for Fenerbahçe of the Turkish Basketball League. But in a series of recent interviews he talked about that April night in New York.
One was with Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A:…I’m happy that justice was done and people can finally see that what happened that night wasn’t our fault. I’ll just try to forget that and concentrate on the future and better things in life.
Q: What can you say about the way you were treated by police now that your case is over?
A: Not good to be honest. I know that they have the power and everything but at the end of the day we are all humans and we all have rights. Nobody has the right to hit you or even put your career in danger. But not all policeman are like that. I truly believe in that. But those few individuals are making the big difference of what and how people think about the police.
Antic was far more blunt in an interview in a Croatian paper, as translated by LoLz14 at NBA reddit (also I checked this with Google Translate, which returned something similar).
“We were in a wrong place at the wrong time, but in the NBA, going out isn’t forbidden. Thabo went out of a car so he could give 20 dollars to a homeless guy (beggar) and all of a sudden police started to push him violently. I went out to see what is happening, after all he only weights ’20 kilograms’ (probably meaning that he isn’t as tough as Antic). It was pure racism that is spread around America. Thabo is black, all officers were white. I didn’t want to leave him so they arrested me as well (or maybe they took him into custody, I don’t know the correct translation). We never got explanation for their behaviour. Police kills people over there and nothing happens.”
It is very possible that speaking to a European publication Antic felt he could be more blunt and open.
In both cases, he said the incident had nothing to do with him leaving the NBA. He could make about the same money here or there, and he told the AJC he prioritized other things.
“You know me better than the other people from the media and you know how much I loved and enjoyed my time in Atlanta. The biggest reason is that I want to be closer to my family and spend more time with them. When we found out that my wife is pregnant with our third child the decision was to stay in Europe (it’s a boy). Believe me it was hard to do it.”