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We knew that this day would be coming. For nearly as long as Thabo Sefolosha has known that his day was coming.
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The Atlanta Hawks swingman will likely move forward with a substantial lawsuit against the NYPD after being found not guilty of the three charges the force pinned on him in the wake of his arrest outside of a New York City club last April.
The NBA player who beat criminal charges of resisting arrest in a melee outside a Manhattan nightclub plans to sue the city and eight cops for up to $50 million over what he claims are “permanent” injuries, even though he’s back on the court — and dunking.
Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks says in a legal notice that the broken leg he suffered when cops pushed him to the ground outside celebrity hot spot 1Oak last April caused him to “become substantially disabled.”
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Thabo suffered a broken ankle in the incident, and immediately pointed the finger at the NYPD for their show of force. After being released from jail and the hospital, some several months away from the trial that would acquit him, he offered this:
“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.”
It took the jury just 90 minutes to agree with Sefolosha and rule against the NYPD earlier in October.
The Post and others have pointed out the poor timing of the report of the lawsuit, if one wants to stretch things out a bit, and the fact that the Hawks’ top-flight social media team sent this tweet out on Sunday night, one that features a healthier Sefolosha flying through the air:
Thabo's leg looked just fine on this one: https://t.co/qgW4KzwafY
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) October 19, 2015
Otherwise ignored on a Sunday night in both the heart of the NBA’s exhibition season, the NFL regular season, and the MLB playoffs, that tweet and any other example of Sefolosha’s athletic play will hurt his case in the court of opinion for some, but those misguided “some” would be missing the point.
Sefolosha didn’t lose $50 million by sitting out the last few weeks of 2014-15 and the Hawks’ subsequent six-week playoff run. Signed to a three-year, $12 million contract in 2014 prior to being dealt from Oklahoma City to Atlanta in a sign and trade agreement, he didn’t miss out on a $50 million payday this summer as a free agent, either. Even if the injuries from the incident would have forced him to retire, insurance would have covered the subsequent $8 million owed on Sefolosha’s contract.
This isn’t the issue. Players – people – that are attacked by law enforcement under the auspices of charges that were eventually found to be baseless need to stand up for their rights, and lawsuits like this need to play a large part in helping dissuade law enforcement from overstepping its bounds.
And, yes, Thabo is dunking again some six and a half months after the injury. It hardly matters. When non-basketball breaks are concerned, one never knows how a player’s body will recover.
Those trying to equate the reported $50 million figure with Sefolosha’s career earnings (following this season, he will have made just over $30 million combined in NBA pay, not counting his five seasons spent playing professionally overseas), the 31-year old’s potential as a free agent in 2017, and the fact that he can dunk a basketball right now aren’t getting it right.
Let them know as much.
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