An Indiana Pacers player has been arrested, and it turns out the rookie has a troubled past.
The Pacers were working hard on the team image after repeated blows of players getting in trouble. New recruit Lance Stephenson’s domestic violence arrest is the last thing the team needed before kicking off season.
Pacers newcomer Lance Stephenson is in big trouble off court. New York Police arrested the 19-year-old Sunday after a reportedly violent fight with his 21-year-old girlfriend.
“This one hurts a little bit right now,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.
The arrest couldn’t come at a worse time for the Pacers.
“This looks like a setback. We will have to see if it is. They have been working so hard. They know the image has to be cleaned up,” said the mayor.
New York Police say Stephenson banged the victim’s head against a stairwell wall and then shoved her down a flight of stairs. His charges include reckless endangerment, assault and a misdemeanor menacing charge.
Indianapolis resident Beth Gibson says the news makes her feel “like there are a bunch of thugs working at Pacers. Here we go again.”
“The NBA has been drafting people that are probably too young mentally to deal with the instant success,” said Bryant Scott, a basketball fan.
It’s not the first time Stephenson has run afoul of the law. While he was still in high school in 2008, he was charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old girl. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in that case.
The Pacers are concentrating on building a new team image especially after the infamous basket-brawl with the Detroit Pistons.
“Team image is important to the city, for the state. To the fans, they want a team that has got a good image,” said Michael Gage, who described himself as a former Pacers fan.
“It doesn’t look good. But again, this is an allegation,” said Mayor Ballard.
Pacers President of Basketball Operations Larry Bird issued the following statement late Monday afternoon:
The news of Lance Stephenson’s arrest is very disappointing to the Pacers franchise and to me personally. We have worked very hard to bring in players that are excellent representatives of our franchise, community and state both on and off the court. Our commitment to this goal is too strong to permit the actions of one individual to reverse all of the positive strides that have been made as a franchise over the last couple of years or to hurt the image of the rest of the players on our team. Everyone in the Pacers organization remains strongly committed to our players representing Indianapolis and the state of Indiana in a positive way and will not condone behavior that reflects poorly on this franchise and community.
We are continuing to gather all of the facts regarding Lance’s arrest but regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Lance should not have put himself in the position he was in early Sunday morning. We have consistently emphasized to our players the importance of not putting themselves in situations where bad things can happen. Once all the facts are known we will deal appropriately with Lance so that he, the team and the entire Pacers community understands that this message cannot be ignored.
How Stephenson’s troubles play out in court could impact how much play he gets on the court when the season tips off this fall.
Stephenson played one year at Cincinnati before getting drafted 40th overall by the Pacers in June.
according to wthr.com