Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Thabo Sefolosha recently received a not guilty verdict for a case related to an incident involving the New York Police Department in April. The encounter took place last season outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub during the final week prior to the playoffs. It left him with a broken leg causing him to miss two preseason games.
On Wednesday, 6-foot-7 forward finally returned to a "court" he is more familiar with. "It's great to be back. That's what I love doing. This group is special and it's like being around family," Sefolosha said after the Hawks' 100-86 win over the San Antonio Spurs during an exhibition game at Philips Arena in Atlanta.
Sefolosha scored five points and grabbed three rebounds in eight minutes, which all happened in the first half. Although he did not play much, it was a big step in his recovery from a serious leg injury. "I didn't play heavy minutes, but at the same time it was good just to have a feel for it and be out there," he said.
With DeMarre Carroll set to become a free agent, Sefolosha is slated to assume a bigger role in Atlanta this season, so getting him healthy is one of the team's priority. The 31-year-old guard will likely be placed slide into the starting small-forward spot when he is able to do longer minutes.
After being cleared of all three charges against him, Sefolosha said that he has not yet decided whether to go after the NYPD in civil court. The player earlier said that the police department is at fault for his leg injury.
Nevertheless, Michele Roberts, executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, said on Wednesday that the union will support Sefolosha should he decide to pursue civil litigation, ESPN reported.
"He had a criminal case and we had to respect that. He now has a civil litigation if he wants to pursue it. I take my lead from him ... but all he has to do is turn me on and I'm gone. I can't even tell you how horrific the experience he had was. It was just dreadful," Roberts mentioned in a question-and-answer session at the "espnW: Women + Sports Summit" event held in Dana Point, California.
As such, Sefolosha has the NBA Union and the team of lawyers on staff behind him. He could apparently afford his own counsel, but Robert's support would also be a huge advantage. On the other hand, now that he is cleared of the charges, the player could also choose to move on and focus on the season ahead.