Michele Roberts: Players union supports Thabo Sefolosha if he sues NYPD

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Thabo Sefolosha says he wants to put his not-guilty verdict behind him.

But just in case the Hawks wing – who was tried for misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest – wants to sue the New York Police Department, Nation Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts has his back.

Roberts, via Ramona Shelburne of ESPN:

“He had a criminal case and we had to respect that,” Roberts said during a question-and-answer session at the espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Dana Point, California. “He now has a civil litigation if he wants to pursue it. I take my lead from him … but all he has to do is turn me on and I’m gone. I can’t even tell you how horrific the experience he had was. It was just dreadful.”

Roberts said the union remained relatively quiet while Sefolosha dealt with criminal charges, but believes he “wants to do more” now that he’s been exonerated.

“I was outraged when [the incident] happened. We were all outraged when that happened,” Roberts said. “We needed to obviously defer to Thabo. We’ve always taken a backseat and respected what he wants to do and we’ll do that going forward. The good news is he does want to do more. And we will do as much as he will allow us to do for him.”

If Sefolosha sues, I think he’d have a good case.

He has a witness saying he was trying to give money to a homeless man. He has video showing police dragging him in different directions. He has a believable motive.

And he has Roberts and the team of lawyers on staff for the union.

Sefolosha could afford his own counsel, but the backing of the union would be an advantage.

He might just choose, with his name cleared, to move on. A lawsuit could distract from the season ahead.

But paying settlements is standard-operating procedure for the NYPD. Sefolosha clearly cares about being a role model. This could be another chance for him to use his celebrity to call attention to how often the department causes people to bring claims against it.