If you’re a New York Knicks forward, Christmas in New York ain’t what it used to be.
Early Wednesday morning, for the second time in a week and half, a forward from the team was robbed; this time, Cleanthony Early, who was shot in the knee when three cars boxed in the Uber he was taking home after visiting a night club, suffered the wrath of criminals.
After the Knicks defeated the Detroit Pistons in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, Early, 24, who stands six-foot-eight, took his girlfriend to the CityScapes gentleman’s club. They left just after 4 a.m., climbed into an Uber and headed home, but three cars boxed them in, providing a chance for as many as six ski-masked assailants to jump out of the cars. The thieves stripped Early of two gold chains, other jewelry, and even the gold caps from Early’s teeth. One thief shot Early in his right kneecap, reinjuring the same knee that had required arthroscopic surgery, forcing him to miss two months of the 2014-15 season.
The gold caps were found in the street near a spent shell casing.
The Uber driver was ruled out as a suspect in the case. A sanitation worker in the neighborhood said the attack was likely planned, asserting, “They must have followed him down here. This isn’t the place people would wait to rob people. There’s no action down here.”
Early attended Wichita State, then was drafted in 2014; he has averaged under four minutes and one point per game this year.
On December 21, Knicks forward Derrick Williams was robbed of a Louis Vuitton trunk full of $750,000 in jewelry after leaving the Up & Down nightclub with two women he had picked up. Williams and the women returned to his apartment, where the women eventually disappeared and the jewelry did too.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher commented, “There are certain things that come with being visible in terms of being a public figure,” adding that players should “continue to try to be as vigilant and as careful as you can knowing that you can’t always avoid other people’s choices.”