Interview: Mentor Calls NBA Player Blaming Police for Leg Break ‘Upstanding’ Man

Auburn, AL

Breitbart Sports talked to the mentor of  Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks in the wake of the player’s claim that New York City police caused his season-ending injury as reported by Breitbart Sports and other sources.

Corey Crowder, a former NBA player, has been critical of professional athletes with character flaws in previous conversations with Breitbart Sports. On one occasion, he was quick to talk about the bad influence of “homeboys” on athletes such as Michael Beasley (see Breitbart Sports story here).

However, in this case Crowder noted that Sefolosha is “universally known as one of the upstanding players in the league.” Crowder says that “no one he knows” has seen Sefolosha initiate conflict.

The arrest of the the foreign-born Hawks Sefolosha (Switzerland) and Pero Antic (Macedonia) came in the wake of American friend Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers and his wife enduring stab wounds from a knife-wielding club-goer. The two Hawks had been supporting their wounded friend when police, who claim they repeatedly ordered them from the area, arrested them.

A Sports Illustrated story notes that the police report claims the altercation that resulted in Sefolosha’s season-ending broken leg was the result of an officer seeing Sefolosha’s aggression toward another officer. However, those who Crowder knows find that hard to believe, and in fact the Sports Illustrated story quotes a witness saying that the officer was the aggressor. He focused on Sefolosha, the witness maintained, “and then he continues to track him down the block like a D-back tracking a receiver.”

While I have focused on the analytics that predict how well college players will perform at the NBA-level, Crowder locks in on character issues and factors such as having a father figure that make players a good bet in the draft.

Crowder wrote a book on raising an athletically-elite child, and his son Jae Crowder was never considered a prospect until he won the Big East Player of the Year and was drafted by Mark Cuban despite being the shortest forward in the NBA. Since his trade to the Celtics this year, the younger Crowder has been part of an incredible run that has put Boston in the playoffs—most recently helped by Crowder’s incredible game-winning shot over two taller defenders this week.

The Oklahoman‘s story five years ago detailed how the elder Crowder’s mentoring skills combined with a then thin but dedicated 18-year-old Sefolosha to result in one of the best defenders in the league. When he finally received a three-year contract believed to be worth $13 million, the consensus held that he stayed humble.

The fact that the incident occurred in the wake of a very public debate over a few recent police incidents may frame public assumptions on both sides. But the fact that Sefolosha, regarded as one of the NBA’s good guys, suddenly sits out of the playoffs after being part of the best Hawks team in decades does not sit well with players or fans on both sides of recent controversies.