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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

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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
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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. 

Dominique Wilkins

Gunning to Buy Atlanta Hawks

9/10/2014 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE
0909_Dominique-Wilkins_atlanta_hawks_getty

With racist-ass racist Bruce Levenson on the outs ... TMZ Sports has learned NBA legend Dominique Wilkins is actively trying to become the next owner of the Atlanta Hawks. 

Multiple NBA sources tell us ... Dominique is "extremely interested" in becoming the next owner of the Hawks -- and has already been pre-approved for ownership by the NBA. 

We're told Wilkins -- who has amassed his own small fortune over the years -- has partnered up with a "very well-known businessman" who believes Wilkins would be the best person to lead the Hawks back to NBA glory. 

Of course, Levenson recently tendered his letter of resignation as current Hawks owner after an incredibly racist email he wrote back in 2012 came to light ... in which he complained that too many black people were attending his games. 

Wilkins played for the Hawks for 12 years during his NBA career ... and was a 9-time All Star ... and they still LOVE him in the ATL.

So far, it's unclear who else is in the hunt for the team -- but ya gotta figure Wilkins is the local favorite.

Atlanta Hawks Owner

I Pulled a Donald Sterling

Outs Himself for Super Racist Email

9/7/2014 10:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
0907-bruce-levenson-getty-01Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson abruptly announced he's selling the team because he's guilty of sending an email so racist ... it would make Donald Sterling cringe.

Levenson admits he sent the email to team execs back in 2012, urging them to get more suburban white fans at games. He then laid out all the problems with the current fan base, listing the following:

- it's 70 pct black
- the cheerleaders are black
- the music is hip hop
- at the bars it's 90 pct black
- there are few fathers and sons at the games
- the concerts [after games] are either hip hop or gospel

Levenson continued in the email ... "My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a significant  season ticket base." He also complained that he's told team execs, "I want some white cheerleaders ... I have even bitched that the kiss cam is too black."

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says Levenson copped to the email in July -- about 2 months after Donald Sterling was banned -- and immediately informed the league he would sell the team.

Levenson apologized to fans in a statement, saying ... "If you're angry about what I wrote, you should be. I'm angry at myself too."

ATL Hawks Head Coach

FIGHTING DUI ARREST

I Was Not Driving Drunk

8/29/2013 10:24 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news
0829_michael_budenholzer_wm

Atlanta Hawks head coach Michael Budenholzer says he was NOT driving drunk when he was arrested for DUI last night ... and says he has some semi-convincing proof to back his claim.

Budenholzer was arrested in Atlanta around 10:30 PM Wednesday night ... after a Georgia State Trooper noticed the NBA coach's car had a broken taillight.

During the stop, cops say they noticed a strong odor of alcohol on Budenholzer's breath -- and asked him to submit to various field sobriety tests, including a breathalyzer.

According to the incident report, obtained by TMZ, MB agreed to everything BUT the breathalyzer ... and then proceeded to perform poorly during the other field sobriety tests. 

During the arrest, Budenholzer reportedly admitted to having consumed 1 glass of wine earlier in the evening.  He was arrested and hauled to a nearby jail.

Budenholzer was eventually released from custody around 3:45 AM this morning (5 HOURS after the initial arrest)  ... and his lawyer says the coach went directly to a local hospital where a blood test revealed his B.A.C. was less than .01. 

Budenholzer has since pled not guilty to DUI -- and released a statement saying, "I apologize to the fans and to the Hawks organization for any negative attention this incident has brought upon my family and the organization while the legal process evolves and I contest these misdemeanor charges."

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