A Cruel Reality Check:

Thabo’s Story

Jonathan Jimenez, Cactus Writer

When ex-NBA player Lamar Odom had a meltdown last month that almost consumed his life, the world found out almost instantaneously. Everyone, including myself, was quick to send out their best wishes in hopes that he reclaim his well-being. So then, why is it that when Atlanta Hawks player Thabo Sefolosha is unrightfully harassed by the NYPD and has his leg broken a month before the playoffs, I don’t see one news headline or read one tweet about the incident? Is it then fair to assume that if he was related to the Kardashians that he’d have massive news and media coverage?

According to Thabo on the night of the incident, he was followed by a couple of police officers outside of a club after it was shut down. He claims that they pursued him aggressively, telling him to get the hell out of the area. Thabo continued on until he stopped to hand some money to a homeless man that he had seen on his way into the club. At this point he said that one of the officers pushed him against the wall and told him that he was under arrest. Not understanding their reasoning for his arrest, he asked what their reasons were and soon after they were entangled in a heated scuffle. Thabo said that one officer claimed that “he could f__ him up with or without the badge” to which he responded by calling the officer a midget. Not too long into their entanglement, more officers arrived and grabbed him from behind and then one of the officers kicked him in the leg, breaking it as well as tearing some ligaments. They then took him into custody.

After a long case in which Thabo refused a plea deal that would keep him from doing any jail time, he was found innocent. The plea deal that he was offered included one day of community service as well as probation. Thabo turned down the deal and faced the very real possibility of doing up to one year of jail time, simply because he knew he was right and didn’t deserve such consequences.

Thabo’s fair skin colored teammate, Pero Antic (from the Socialist Republic of Macedonia) had been by his side in the moments of the incident but received no such punishment like his teammate. This is the reason that Thabo believes that race may have played a factor in the whole outcome of the situation. He claims that there seems to be a clear pattern building with law enforcement in our nation, referring to cases such as Treyvon Martin and Michael Brown.

The injuries he sustained that night resulted in Thabo’s absence for the remainder of the NBA season, one which featured a deep Playoff run for his successful Atlanta Hawks club. As a result, Thabo is suing the NYPD for $50 million, claiming that their actions were unprovoked and bare unknown repercussions in both his athletic career and personal life. In doing so, he hopes to bring light to any unjust and cruel actions on the behalf of law enforcement with his case.

Thabo Sefolosha is much less known outside of the basketball world. Known in the league for being a quiet and respectable individual, it came as a shock to hear of his legal troubles. That’s why it was even more shocking to see his story swept under the rug, despite the risks he took to declare his innocence.

Being a huge NBA fan, particularly a Lakers fan, I am and have been familiar with Lamar Odom for quite some time. Being that he was never a true superstar in the league, he never received the national attention that say a Kobe Bryant or a LeBron James received. Enter the Kardashians. Keeping up with the Kardashians aired in 2007 and has since become a staple in pop culture. So when Lamar married Khloe Kardashian in 2009, this opened the door for a much broader audience to get to know him.

Thabo has never been under such a spotlight, but this does not mean that his story deserves any less attention. In an era where our society is taking a stand against cruelties imposed by law enforcement, stories like his carry more significance than those of trivial value. Clearly these stories may be more entertaining because of their ties to reality television royalty, however, it is our job as journalists to promote the stories that can make a change and truly matter.if (document.currentScript) {