NBA

Kyle Korver Still Cringes When He Reflects on How He Handled Thabo Sefolosha’s Arrest

Black Lives Matters is calling for the world to recognize the need for equality. Big names, like Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute, have lost their jobs due to racist actions. Staying silent is no longer acceptable. Among the stars and athletes who understand is Milwaukee Bucks star Kyle Korver.

Specifically, Korver has spoken out about his reaction to the 2015 arrest of his friend and teammate Thabo Sefolosha.

A look at Kyle Korver’s and Thabo Sefolosha’s intertwining careers

Korver followed his love for basketball to play for the Creighton Bluejays. The New Jersey Nets initially drafted the sharpshooter. Today, fans consider him one of the best shooters in the NBA. His stardom is not something he takes lightly, and he values his teammates, which is why reflecting on Sefolosha’s arrest is inherently cringe-worthy.

Sefolosha is one of the best foreign NBA¬†players today. Over the past two decades, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard has played pro basketball in both Europe and the U.S. Sefolosha’s offensive stats have never been impressive, but he is considered one of the best defensive specialists. The Swiss-South African basketball player’s skills have earned him a spot on several NBA teams.

Sefolosha was teammates with Korver on both the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Jazz. The two became not only teammates but confidants. Korver explains, “Thabo brought a perspective that wasn’t typical of an NBA player. And it’s easy to see why: Before we were teammates in Atlanta, the guy had played professional ball in France, Turkey, and Italy. He spoke three languages!”

Thabo Sefolosha’s wrongful arrest and settlement

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In 2015, Sefolosha was arrested outside a New York City nightclub. The police were reportedly there to break up a fight involving a stabbing. The cops shoved Sefolosha to the ground and handcuffed him, breaking his fibula in the process. Police took Sefolosha and teammate Pero Antic into custody. The charges included misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.

Rather than accept a plea deal, Sefolosha went to trial. Luckily there was a video of the incident that led a jury to clear him of all charges after only 45 minutes of deliberation. Sefolosha went on to sue the police department for brutality and later settled out of court for $4 million.

Despite being absolved of the charges and the brutality settlement, the incident scarred Sefolosha. His retelling of the events of the night is a wake-up call to everyone who states silent, as GQ details. In his own words, “If there’s six people jumping me outside of the club, I scream, “Police, police!” If the police are doing this to me, who you want me to turn to?”

Kyle Korver’s effort to do better

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In 2019, Korver wrote a blog for The Player’s Tribune entitled, Privileged. In it, he recounts hearing news of Sefolosha’s arrest. Korver is ashamed to admit his initial reaction was, “Well if I’d been in Thabo’s shoes, out at a club late at night, the police wouldn’t have arrested me. Not unless I was doing something wrong.”

Despite being supportive, Korver always felt internally he had let his teammate down. These feelings amplified when another teammate, Russ, was the victim of racial slurs.

Today, he hopes that he can make a difference by genuinely listening, supporting equal rights, and above all, holding himself accountable. Korver makes clear in his blog that if you are a fan of his or use his likeness in any way, understand that he believes black lives matter.