Pero Antic can finally speak about the arrests of himself and teammate Thabo Sefolosha in New York City in April that was a blemish on the Hawks’ record-breaking season.
“Nobody has the right to arrest you for nothing,” Antic told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an e-mail. “Nobody has the right to hit you or even put your career in danger.”
Antic was charged with obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct and second-degree harassment following an incident outside a night club in the early morning hours of April 8. The charges against him were dropped earlier this month. Prosecutors said they did so “in the interest of justice.”
Sefolosha suffered a broken right leg and ligament damage in the arrest and also faces similar charges. The injuries ended his season just before the Hawks’ playoff run to the Eastern Conference finals. In the same court hearing earlier this month, Sefolosha refused a conditional dismissal and his trial is scheduled to being Oct. 5.
Antic, a native of Macedonia, played for the Hawks for two seasons. This summer he elected to return to Europe and signed a three-year contract with Fenerbache in Turkey.
Antic answered several questions about his arrest and his decision to leave the NBA in the e-mail with the AJC.
Q: Do you feel vindicated now that the charges against you in New York have been dropped?
A: I feel and I don’t feel at the same time. I’m happy that justice was done and people can finally see that what happened that night wasn’t our fault. I’ll just try to forget that and concentrate on the future and better things in life.
Q: What can you say about the way you were treated by police now that your case is over?
A: Not good to be honest. I know that they have the power and everything but at the end of the day we are all humans and we all have rights. Nobody has the right to hit you or even put your career in danger. But not all policeman are like that. I truly believe in that. But those few individuals are making the big difference of what and how people think about the police.
Q: Do you think that you were mistreated?
A: Yes, I don’t know what else to say. I’m happy that this is behind me now and hope soon that it will finish also for my brother Thabo. But again I will say, wrong place at a wrong time.
Q: Did what happened in New York have anything to do with your decision to leave the NBA and return to Europe?
A: Not even 0000000.1 %. You know me better than the other people from the media and you know how much I loved and enjoyed my time in Atlanta. The biggest reason is that I want to be closer to my family and spend more time with them. When we found out that my wife is pregnant with our third child the decision was to stay in Europe (it’s a boy). Believe me it was hard to do it.
Q: What are your reflections about your time with the Hawks and your two years in the NBA?
A: Expect the unexpected! I would not talk about the results that we made, but more important than that are the people around and within the team. Everything starts with COACH BUD. He taught me so much about life, family, basketball and so many other things. I would miss him a lot. I’m so happy that I met a person like him in my life, that has accomplish so much in life and still he is down to earth. My teammates and the other coaching stuff that made it all easier for me – from my El Capitano Al Horford to the old man my mentor Elton Brand and Dominique Wilkins. People are great. The city is beautiful and the whole HAWKS organization was my family. We all built something great. Maybe the best chemistry in the league I wish them a lot of health and more happiness for the HAWKS and the city of ATLANTA. TRU TO ATLANTA.
I also spoke to coach Mike Budenholzer recently and asked about Antic. Here is what he said.
Q: I’m curious about Pero Antic because when I asked him before the end of the season if he wanted to come back, he said ‘From your lips to God’s ears.’ And then, pretty quickly after the season, he chose to return to Europe. What happened there and I wonder if the New York incident had anything to do with his decision?
A: No, I think he genuinely wanted to be back and we genuinely wanted him back. The European market moves at a different time and a different pace. There was an opportunity, really two-fold, to be closer to home and family. There was some discussions of his wife and kids coming here if he came back. For his family, to be closer to Macedonia and play in Turkey. And then financially, I think was something he thought was a very good situation and something he could not pass up. It was a happy-sad phone call. We were telling each other how great it’s been. I genuinely love him. He is a special person. How things all worked out was a wild 72 hours. I don’t think New York had anything to do with it. It was just family and money at the end of the day. Both of them lined up and he made a tough decision.