Nets' Jefferson charged with assaulting man in January

MINNEAPOLIS -- New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson was charged with assault Wednesday for grabbing another man by the throat in a Minneapolis club earlier this year. But the player disputed the account of what happened.

Jefferson was in town with the team on Jan. 27 for a game against the Timberwolves when, according to a charge filed, he went to a club in the Graves Hotel where the victim was having a private birthday party in a roped-off section.

The documents say Jefferson entered the area and got angry when he was asked to leave. He is accused of grabbing the victim, shoving him to a bench and choking him with both hands.

On "The Mike and Murray Show" on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Jefferson gave his account of the altercation.

"It was actually Vince Carter's birthday," he said. "A party. We were actually, you know, all hanging out as a team. I was in our hotel. Actually, I was in the hotel bar. I wasn't at a strip club, you know, three hours away. I wasn't, like, in a casino. I wasn't doing anything. I was literally in our hotel bar and I had an individual come up to me who was very rude and very disrespectful and, you know, an altercation broke out."

Jefferson downplayed the severity of the incident.

"There were no punches thrown," he said on the radio show. "They were saying there was choking. It was more of a getting your space. This individual doesn't have a scratch on him. There was no mark. There was no blood. There was no anything. Obviously, [athletes] have a target on our back and it is unfortunate that these people would even do this. This incident happened four months ago. I wasn't drunk."

Jefferson's attorney, Joe Friedberg, said the accuser was "incredibly drunk," according to The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.

"I think we all know this guy [Jefferson] is not the type to get involved with something like this," Friedberg said, according to the report. "Something is really out of whack, and beneath this is the potentiality of a civil suit."

Jefferson took exception with the double standard that athletes endure.

"I don't even think I've ever been thrown out of a basketball game," Jefferson said in the radio interview. "But some drunk individual wants to come up and, you know, then, of course, when they start telling their side of the story we're the big bad athletes that think they can get away with everything and then they're some innocent individual that has never made a mistake in their life."

Nets spokesman Gary Sussman had no comment.

Jefferson's first court hearing is set for June 18.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.