Hornets look into altercation involving Hairston
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The Charlotte Hornets say they are looking into an altercation involving rookie P.J. Hairston and a person his agent described as an area high school player during a pickup basketball game at the Durham YMCA.
The Hornets issued a statement Sunday night saying they’re aware of the incident and “are in the process of gathering additional information.”
Hairston’s agent, Juan Morrow, says the unidentified player was over-aggressively playing Hairston, leading to a shoving match. Morrow says the player “took a swing at P.J. and P.J. swung back.”
The Durham Police Department said they had no information about the incident when contacted Sunday night, and it’s unclear if police were called.
Hairston was the 26th pick in the draft by the Miami Heat, but was quickly traded to Charlotte.
Morrow said Hairston was in Charlotte on Sunday night preparing for practice with the team on Monday.
He said Hairston spoke with general manager Rich Cho and coach Steve Clifford after the incident and explained his side of the story.
“P.J. did not go out and beat up a little kid like some people want to make it out to be,” Morrow said.
Hairston rose to prominence as a sophomore when he became a midseason addition to a four-guard starting lineup, becoming North Carolina’s leading scorer and flirting with entering the NBA draft before opting to return to school.
But he never played again for the Tar Heels. He sat out the first 10 games last season while the school worked to resolve eligibility questions for receiving improper benefits, tied largely to the use of rental cars linked to Durham felon and party promoter Haydn Patrick “Fats” Thomas.
Authorities cited Hairston in May and June 2013 while he was driving vehicles linked to Thomas, the second time leading to a later-dismissed charge for misdemeanor marijuana possession.
The school decided in December it would not seek reinstatement from the NCAA for Hairston due to several violations, ending his college career and ultimately sending him to the NBA Development League.
Hairston said the day after the NBA draft that he has put the past behind him.
“I’ve some bumps in the road that I had to overcome and I feel like I’ve done that,” Hairston said on June 27.
Cho said that same day the team did plenty of research on all of the team’s potential draft picks, including Hairston. He said after speaking with Hairston he walked away confident he wouldn’t be a distraction.
“He was pretty forthcoming with some of the mistakes he’s made,” Cho said. “I think that’s a positive. We’re giving him a fresh start and I think he will take advantage of that.”