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Boston Celtics guard Jabari Bird pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges at Thursday’s arraignment in municipal court, where the alleged sordid details were revealed for the first time.
Why was Jabari Bird arrested?
A month after the former second-round pick signed his first full-time NBA contract with the Celtics, the 24-year-old was arrested Saturday in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood on charges of domestic assault, strangulation and kidnapping. The allegations revealed Thursday are no less harrowing.
According to reports, Bird’s girlfriend says he detained her for four hours on Friday afternoon in their Brighton apartment. He allegedly repeatedly kicked her and strangled her roughly a dozen times, including once until she lost consciousness. She reportedly tried hiding under a bed and in a locked bathroom, and when she tried to escape the apartment, he allegedly dragged her back by the ankles.
Bird’s girlfriend escaped when he eventually suffered “seizure-like symptoms” and passed out, according to the police report. She reportedly moved him to a bed and fled in a friend’s car. When Bird came to, he allegedly texted her and threatened to kill himself if she did not return to the apartment.
Bird to be freed on $100,000 bail
The alleged victim told police that Bird struggles with anxiety issues. An evaluation at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital reportedly delayed his arraignment originally scheduled for Monday. The judge set Bird’s bail at $100,000. He was barred from having contact with the alleged victim or visiting her college campus. Bird’s attorney said his mother and high school coach would supervise him in his Brighton apartment.
Celtics ‘deeply disturbed’ by allegations
“Most importantly, our thoughts are with the victim of this incident,” the Celtics said in a statement after the arraignment. “The Celtics organization deplores domestic violence of any kind, and we are deeply disturbed by the allegations against Jabari Bird. Pursuant to Domestic Violence Policy in the NBA’s labor agreement, matters of this kind are handled by the League Office, not the team, and so the Celtics will be working with both the league and local authorities to assist in their ongoing investigations. The team will have no further comment at this time.”
What is Bird’s employment status with the Celtics?
Drafted 56th overall by the Celtics in 2017, Bird signed a two-year, $2.9 million deal in late July. Only the first year is guaranteed. He played in Boston on a two-way contract last season and was expected to be one of the last players on the bench of a championship contender. His future is now uncertain.
Bird is scheduled to return to court on Oct. 25. In the meantime, he can travel out of state only with the Celtics, should the organization keep him on the roster entering this month’s training camp. The guard released a statement Thursday afternoon saying he was “taking some time” off from the Celtics:
Statement from Celtics guard Jabari Bird: pic.twitter.com/jRkDyPfw4b
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) September 13, 2018
What is the NBA’s domestic violence policy?
The NBA’s new collective-bargaining agreement allows commissioner Adam Silver to place players on paid leave during domestic violence investigations. Pending a league investigation, Silver can also issue a suspension, even if a player is not found guilty. Such was the case when former Detroit Pistons center Willie Reed was suspended for six games following a domestic battery arrest last summer.
“The allegations are disturbing and we are conducting a full investigation of the matter,” a league spokesman said in a statement. “We have been in contact with local authorities since learning of the incident.”
The NBA requires violators of its domestic abuse policy to undergo counseling. This past May, the league and its players’ union also launched a mental health program to counsel players who are actively addressing issues such as anxiety and depression. Bird’s case could be an important and complicated one for a league that has sought to both take a firmer stance against domestic violence, and create a more open environment for players working through mental health issues.
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