March 31, 2011
A man sometimes described as an ex-NBA referee attacked former Atlanta Hawks All-Star and current Hawks broadcaster Dominique Wilkins following Atlanta's win Wednesday night over what the assailant described as an unpaid bill. Wilkins appears to be OK following the incident, and we've nothing but questions as a result.
For one, the attacker Rashan Michel (pictured at right, with the battle-weary face) is listed both by the Associated Press and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as 36 years old, which would make him among the youngest of all current referees working right now. But the AJC initially published an AP shot of Michel, the alleged attacker, refereeing a game between the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic all the way back in 1995 (presumably as a replacement referee during an in-season referee lockout in early 1995-96), which would make the then-20-year-old Michel the youngest referee in NBA history.
An Akron Beacon-Journal story, as quoted by SportsByBrooks, lists Michel's first year in the NBA as the 1997-98 season, at age 23. Perhaps he was calling a preseason game in the photo taken by the AP, or that his scab status wasn't counted as official by the NBA until he re-joined the league in 1997. We do know that he called his last game as an NBA ref in 2001, and hasn't reffed at any level since 2004.
Late Thursday morning, the AJC came through with this report:
Michel, who told police he was owed money for suits purchased several years ago, hit Wilkins in the chest and also hit a security guard, Jones said. Michel, of Atlanta, has worked as an NBA and college basketball referee and previously owned his own clothing store.
"The fan was promptly arrested and was taken into custody by the Atlanta Police Department," Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche said in a statement to the AJC. "At this time the Hawks have no additional information or comment regarding this situation."
NBA.com's Sekou Smith tweeted that Wilkins got in three "solid" punches during the brief fight, while his assailant landed none.
The AJC reported that Michel tweeted about the incident:
Michel claims that Dominique offered the first blow.
Wilkins has enjoyed a relatively unblemished post-NBA career since retiring in 1999. He has served several positions on the Hawks since then before moving up to the ranks of full-time on-air analyst this season.
It's very hard to see, and we can't embed the clip here at BDL, but there is cell phone video documentation of the fight over at TMZ.