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Atlanta Hawks Organist

I Got Hired Off Craigslist ...

Now I'm Cool With 2 Chainz

5/23/2015 12:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0521_sir_foster_instagramThe Atlanta Hawks' best defense against LeBron James during home games might be their badass organist who keeps the fans turnt up, and has 2 Chainz and Ludacris hanging on every note. 

Sir Foster's become a breakout star during the Hawks' playoff run by busting out renditions of songs by Chris Brown, Outkast, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi ... pretty much every genre of popular music. He tells TMZ Sports it's all thanks to Craigslist.

Foster says he landed his dream job when "the team put out a Craigslist ad for an organist. I had zero experience playing sporting events, but I figured, 'I have nothing to do today,' so I went."

He nailed that audition 6 years ago -- and now that the Hawks are dominating deep into the playoffs, he's getting national recognition, and local celebs dig him too. "I've gotten a lot of support from artists like Ludacris, 2 Chainz, Pastor Troy and The Dream."

Foster says the key to his success is staying away from traditional (aka boring) stadium music -- "I play the songs people in Atlanta like to listen to." 

He's smart too ... during last night's game, Foster busted out Lil B's "Wonton Soup." Always good to give props to The Based God.

Atlanta Mayor

LeBron Who?

Hawks Still Gonna Take It!

5/22/2015 8:36 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Give Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed some credit -- even in the face of a dominant LeBron James ... he's picking his beloved Hawks to take out the Cavaliers.

Reed was out in L.A. on Thursday night when he made his prediction -- we're not shocked he's riding with the Hawks ... but the odds are stacked against them. DeMarre Carroll is nursing a bad knee, their best defender is out with a broken leg, and they've lost home court advantage.

Oh yeah, and LeBron.

So, the shocking part is the number of games he thinks the birds will need to come out on top. He's pretty much saying tonight is a must-win.

No pressure, Hawks.

NBA's Thabo Sefolosha

Too Injured to Attend Playoff Games

... 'It's Killing Him'

5/16/2015 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0515-MAIN-Thabo-Sefolosha-cast-INSTAGRAM-01ATL Hawks forward Thabo Sefalosha hasn't been able to attend a SINGLE playoff game due to the injuries he suffered during an altercation with the NYPD and he's "devastated" ... sources tell TMZ Sports

As we previously reported, Sefalosha claims he broke his right fibula and sustained ligament damage as cops tried to take him into custody following a stabbing outside of a nightclub last month. 

Thabo underwent surgery ... and sources tell us he's basically been relegated to his home to rest and recover ever since .... while his teammates have been tearing it up in the NBA playoffs. 

"It's killing him that he's not in the playoffs," one source close to Thabo tells us ... "He'd much rather be competing with his team."

Meantime, Sefalosha is still facing criminal charges from the night of the arrest -- obstruction of a police officer and disorderly conduct -- though we're told he's still fighting the case ... and expects to be vindicated

We also spoke with Thabo's lawyer who tells us he cannot comment on the criminal case but says, "They could really use Thabo in the series."

Thabo Sefolosha

Blames NYPD for Injury

'I'm In Great Pain'

4/14/2015 11:53 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0414-thabo-sefolosha-GETTY-01Thabo Sefolosha is publicly blaming the NYPD for the "significant injury" he suffered during an arrest last week ... saying, "I am in great pain ... the injury was caused by the police."

We broke the story ... the NYPD has already launched an internal affairs investigation into the arrest -- in which you can see several officers physically corralling the NBA player. 

In fact, you can see one cop pull out a baton and swing it -- though it's unclear from the footage if he connects with Thabo. The NYPD has said Thabo was acting in an aggressive manor which justified the use of force.

Thabo reportedly suffered a broken right fibula and ligament damage in the melee ... and now he's issued a statement blaming the police. 

"On advice of counsel, I hope you can appreciate that I cannot discuss the facts of the case. Those questions will be answered by my attorney in a court of law. I will simply say that I am in great pain, have experienced a significant injury and that the injury was caused by the police."

Thabo Sefolosha

Internal Affairs Investigating

Violent NYPD Arrest

4/14/2015 8:55 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

The NYPD has launched an internal affairs investigation into the arrest of NBA player Thabo Sefolosha -- who claims cops used excessive force during a violent incident last week.

As we previously reported, Thabo was taken into custody early Wednesday morning -- after cops say he was obstructing officers from investigating the stabbing of NBA player Chris Copeland.

We posted footage of the arrest on TMZ Sports -- which showed cops putting Thabo in a headlock and pulling him to the ground. At least one cop brandishes his nightstick. 

Cops say Thabo was acting in an aggressive manor ... which justified the use of force. Thabo's attorney says BS ... and says the video essentially exonerates his client of any wrongdoing. 

Now, an NYPD spokesperson tells us, "The issue has been referred to internal affairs, which is investigating the incident."

Stay tuned ... 

Thabo Sefolosha

NEW Video of Arrest ...

NYPD Officer Swung Baton

4/10/2015 7:12 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Atlanta Hawks star Thabo Sefolosha appeared to suffer a severe blow from an NYPD officer's nightstick during his arrest Wednesday night ... based on this new video of the violent take down.

TMZ Sports just obtained this new angle of Sefolosha's arrest, shot by a witness outside 1Oak Nightclub in NYC ... moments after Pacers Chris Copeland was stabbed.

In this video you can clearly see Sefolosha being tugged in different directions by 6 officers. Additionally ... you can see one of the officers take a big swing with his baton, and it sounds like he makes contact with something.

A witness says Thabo told police, "Calm down."

As we've reported ... Sefolosha broke his fibula during the scuffle with cops, and based on this video it's possible it could've been caused by the officer's baton.

In their report, police said Thabo was aggressively charging at one of the officers before they got physical with him. That's not evident from either video we've obtained ... since they start after the scuffle began.

Thabo is out for the remainder of the season ... due to the injury. He was arrested for obstruction, but plans to fight the charges. 

Thabo Sefolosha's Lawyer

'Video Speaks For Itself'

Expects Case to Be Dismissed

4/9/2015 5:00 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0409-thabo-sefolosha-getty-01Thabo Sefolosha's lawyer tells TMZ Sports ... the video of his client's arrest proves what Thabo has said all along -- he did NOTHING wrong. 

We spoke with attorney Alex Spiro who tells us, "I fully expect this case to be dismissed. The video speaks for itself."

Of course, the video shows Sefolosha in a violent clash with 6 NYPD officers early Wednesday morning ... following the Chris Copeland stabbing

Cops say Thabo was being aggressive toward police during the encounter and that's why things turned physical.

Sefolosha says B.S. -- and has vowed to fight the charges.

Clearly, Thabo's attorney feels the video gives his side the upper hand.  

Thabo Sefolosha

Video of Brutal Clash with Cops

Headlocked & Taken Down

4/9/2015 3:43 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Atlanta Hawks star Thabo Sefolosha was grabbed around the neck -- and flung to the ground -- in a struggle with several NYPD officers during his Wednesday arrest ... and TMZ Sports has the footage.  

Before the video begins, Thabo's teammate Pero Antic was already sitting on the curb -- subdued by police for allegedly obstructing cops from investigating the Chris Copeland stabbing.  

But when cops tried to corral Thabo, something went wrong -- and a scuffle breaks out between the NBA player and 6 officers.  

At one point during the struggle, you can see an officer reach out and grab Thabo by his neck ... while two other officers help take the 6'7", 220-pounder down to the ground. 

Eventually, Thabo is placed in cuffs -- and officers walk him down the street ... while onlookers shout obscenities in French directed toward the police.   

Moments ago, it was reported that Thabo suffered a fractured tibia in the melee and will miss the remainder of the season.  

Both Thabo and Pero issued a statement saying they will fight the charges. 

ATL Hawks Players

The Cops Are Lying

We Didn't Block Stabbing Crime Scene

4/8/2015 3:19 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0408-sefolosha-antic-hawks-getty-02

Two Atlanta Hawks basketball players claim allegations they got in the way of a police investigation at the scene of an NYC stabbing are UNTRUE ... and they vow to fight the charges in court.  

As we previously reported, Thabo Sefolosha and Pero Antic were arrested near 1Oak nightclub after Indiana Pacers player Chris Copeland was stabbed in an early morning attack

Cops say Pero and Thabo obstructed police from investigating the crime scene -- and were acting disorderly when asked to get out of the way. Cops also say Thabo resisted arrest and it took several officers to take him into custody.  

But now, the players have issued a joint statement calling BS on the NYPD ... saying, "We will contest these charges and look forward to communicating the facts of the situation at the appropriate time."

They continued, "As members of the Atlanta Hawks, we hold ourselves to a high standard and take our roles as professionals very seriously."

"We apologize to our respective families, teammates, and the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon them."

T.I.

I Won't Buy the ATL Hawks ...

NBA Owners Are Powerless

1/22/2015 6:32 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
012215_ti_launchSeems T.I. has taken himself out of the running to buy the Atlanta Hawks -- telling us NBA owners have no real power and the whole thing seems like a waste of money.  

T.I. was leaving Ricardo Steakhouse in NYC Wednesday night -- when he told us he's "excited" about how well the Hawks are doing this season ... but says he's flat out "not interested" in ownership. 

"The thing about me owning a NBA franchise ... you never get bigger than the NBA," T.I. says. 

"So, whatever it is that you do, it'll be controlled by a bunch of people who probably have more money than you. And who have been involved with the organization for longer than you. So you won't be able to do a lot of the things that you want to do. So, I'm not interested."

FYI -- according to Forbes, the Hawks are worth roughly $825 million ... and the price is probably going up -- considering the Hawks are ON FIRE ... winning their 14th game in a row Wednesday.

Atlanta Hawks Owner

T.I. vs. Usher

If I Had to Choose One Ambassador

11/3/2014 4:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
Atlanta Hawks Owner TI The new Atlanta Hawks owner could be in a very tough spot ... having to pick one hip hop spokesman for his team out of all the music superstars in A-Town -- and he's not looking forward to settling the matter.

We tried to nail down John Rutherford Seydel II on whether he's going to follow the lead of the Raptors and Wizards -- which recently enlisted Drake and Wale as respective spokesmen for their hometown squads.

Seydel gave T.I. props for performing on the Hawks' opening night, but also mentioned he has ties to Usher. Throw in Jermaine Dupri, Rich Homie Quan, Ying Yang Twins, and Wocka Flocka Flame -- to name just a few -- and Sydel would have an impossible decision.

Watch the clip ... he's obviously torn, and afraid to piss off anyone.

ATL Rapper Killer Mike

Hawks Owner's NOT A Racist

... He's A Businessman

9/14/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
0912-killer-mike-bruce-levenson-getty-01
ATL Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is being UNFAIRLY labeled a racist over his now infamous email -- so says ATL rapper Killer Mike who tells TMZ Sports the only color on BL's mind was GREEN! 

The email (from 2012) went viral last weekend -- and in it, Levenson explained that the high percentage of black people at his games was scaring off rich white people. 

Mike, who's signed to T.I.'s Grand Hustle label, says there's NOTHING WRONG with making those observations. 

"It's not remotely racist at all. What I read was a business man trying to fill up his seats with the demographic that spends the most money."

Mike adds, "I own a barber shop. I make it a point for people to know I cut white people's hair. If white people 30 to 55 aren't coming to Hawks games, you have to do whatever you need to do to get them there."

Mike does admit that the email was "crass" -- but he thinks people should stop being so quick to throw that word "racist" around.

"We should save that outrage for a time when it's really warranted."

Al Sharpton

MEETS WITH NBA

Over Handling of Racist ATL Hawks Owner

9/12/2014 7:04 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
091214_al_sharpton_launch
Al Sharpton tells TMZ Sports ... he's been a part of discussions with NBA Commish Adam Silver on how to handle the situation with racist Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson

Sharpton -- who previously sat down with Adam Silver in the middle of the Donald Sterling crisis -- tells us, "In the discussions we've been having with the Commissioner, they said they were gonna vet everyone out [before allowing a sale of the team]."

The Rev says, "We challenge the NBA Commissioner Silver and others to not just go from one billionaire to another without opening up the diversity of ownership in the NBA." 

"We only have one team. Michael Jordan owned by a black [Charlotte Bobcats] ... yet look at the percentage of players that are black."

Of course, Levenson just announced he would be selling the Hawks over a super racist email he wrote in 2012 -- complaining about too many black people at his games. 

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