An NBA player, his girlfriend and another woman were stabbed early on Wednesday following an argument on the street near a Manhattan nightclub that also led to the arrest of two other players, authorities said.
Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, 31, was stabbed in the left elbow and abdomen. Copeland made his NBA debut with the New York Knicks at the relatively late age of 28 after playing in Europe for several years.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Copeland had surgery on his elbow and abdomen and would be hospitalized overnight. He added it was not known yet if Copeland would miss the remainder of the season.
The violence erupted just before 4am outside 1Oak Club, a trendy Chelsea spot.
The couple were arguing on the street as the attacker eavesdropped and started to interfere, according to police. The dispute escalated until the 22-year-old suspect pulled out a knife and started slashing, police said.
Copeland’s driver grabbed the suspect and held him until officers arrived.
The suspect, Shezoy Bleary, was in custody with charges pending, authorities said.
Katrine Saltara was slashed in the arm and across the breast. The second woman, who was believed to be with the attacker, was slashed in the abdomen. The victims were hospitalized and in a stable condition, police said.
Police recovered a switchblade at the scene.
Atlanta Hawks players Pero Antic, 33, and Thabo Sefolosha, 30, who were not with Copeland, but were also at the club, were arrested after police said they blocked officers from trying to start their investigation. The teammates were in town to play the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night. The team arrived late on Tuesday, after beating the Phoenix Suns in Atlanta.
Antic and Sefolosha were released without bail after a brief court appearance where they were charged with obstructing governmental authority and disorderly conduct.
Their attorney, Alex Spiro, said they did not commit any crime.
“They should not have been arrested. We fully expect the case to be dismissed,” he said.
The players issued a joint statement through the team, apologizing for any embarrassment they caused.
“As members of the Atlanta Hawks, we hold ourselves to a high standard and take our roles as professionals very seriously,” the statement said. “We will contest these charges and look forward to communicating the facts of the situation at the appropriate time.”
The arrests were an unwanted distraction for a team that is less than two weeks away from starting the post-season.
The Hawks said neither Antic nor Sefolosha would play against the Nets. Sefolosha was limping during his court appearance and Spiro said he had been injured during the arrest.
Coach Mike Budenholzer said the reserve would have his ankle checked.
The Pacers were in town to play the Knicks; Copeland played with New York during the 2012-2013 season.
Copeland has played infrequently, missing 21 games since Jan. 31. With All-Star Paul George making his season debut on Sunday, Copeland’s already limited minutes were expected to get cut.
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