New York Knicks forward Cleanthony Early was shot in the right knee Wednesday morning in what police sources said was "a coordinated early-morning attack involving masked gunmen after leaving a Queens strip club," according to the New York Daily News.
Early, 24, was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens after the shooting, and listed in stable condition, police said. The right knee is the same one on which he had arthroscopic surgery during his rookie season last year. The Knicks described his situation as not "life-threatening" in a team statement. Early was released from the hospital late Wednesday morning, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The second-year forward was robbed after leaving CityScapes Gentlemen's Club in Maspeth, Queens, N.Y., at around 4:30 a.m., New York police officials said. Early and his girlfriend began the night by going out to dinner in SoHo after the Knicks' Tuesday home win over the Detroit Pistons, before arriving to CityScapes at about 1:30 a.m., according to police.
After leaving nearly three hours later, Early and his girlfriend were surrounded by four to six men, two of whom had guns, according to the Daily News:
The couple was in an Uber cab, about a mile away from the club, when three cars boxed in the vehicle, sources said.
The men approached — two of them with guns, one wearing a ski mask — and pulled Early from the back seat, holding him up with semi-automatic pistols.
"Give me everything you got," the men told Early, according to police sources.
Early handed over his cash, gold caps on his teeth, and two gold chains, as well as his iPhone 6, sources said, before shooting Early in the right knee. The Uber driver was also robbed, and the men took his ID.
After the shooting, Early and the Uber driver "sought help at a nearby house," according to NBC New York:
A neighbor told NBC 4 New York he called 911 because he saw a tall man and another man trying to get into the house and thought it was a break-in; it was Early and the Uber driver, and the man who lived at the home they were trying to access let them in and got them help, the neighbor said.
No arrests have been made, according to the NYPD. Early's girlfriend was not injured in the attack, according to Aidan Gardiner of DNAinfo.com.
The Knicks offered the following statement on Early after the news broke Wednesday morning:
We are aware of what occurred with Cleanthony Early this morning and are relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation. We will not comment any further until we receive more information.
Early's teammates offered public support on Wednesday morning:
— Lang Galloway (@LangGalloway10) December 30, 2015
Prayers for my teammate and good friend @Clearly_BallLyf
— jose manuel calderon (@JmCalderon3) December 30, 2015
— Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) December 30, 2015
Early's shooting comes 10 days after fellow Knicks forward Derrick Williams was robbed of more than $600,000 in jewelry after bringing two women home from a TriBeCa nightclub following a Knicks home win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I don’t really have to get into a discussion about our policies and what guys can and can’t do,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said after Williams' incident. “We don’t have a curfew, which I know that in the NFL and maybe other sports they do on certain nights. But other than that, it’s an unfortunate incident and Derrick hasn’t really spoken about it. He was involved so it was very unfortunate and we’ll kind of leave it at that.”
The Knicks chose Early, a Bronx native, out of Wichita State with the 34th pick of the 2014 NBA draft. After making 39 appearances, including seven starts, for the Knicks last season, the 6-foot-8 forward has found himself on the fringes of Fisher's rotation this season, logging just 34 minutes in 10 appearances for New York in 2015-16.
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