ATLANTA (AP) - A former NBA referee was charged with attacking Hall of Famer and Atlanta Hawks television analyst Dominique Wilkins in a dispute over a clothing bill.
Carlos Campos, an Atlanta police spokesman, said 36-year-old Rashan S. Michel was released early Thursday on $1,000 cash bond after being charged with two counts of simple battery.
Michel confronted the former NBA star while he was wrapping up his broadcasting duties after Atlanta’s 85-82 win over Orlando on Wednesday night. He claims Wilkins owes him $12,500 for custom-made suits.
“It appears the gentleman came down after the game. Mr. Wilkins was giving a live broadcast and he started yelling some things, confronting Mr. Wilkins,” Campos said. “When Mr. Wilkins stepped away to de-escalate the situation, Mr. Michel pursued Mr. Wilkins to the point that he physically attacked him.”
Wilkins, who was not injured, told officers that he didn’t believe he owed Michel for the clothing.
“Apparently, Mr. Wilkins was under the impression it was a gift,” Campos said.
The only blows in the altercation were apparently landed by Wilkins. A police booking photo showed Michel with a large welt under his left eye.
Michel was an NBA referee for four seasons beginning in 1997, according to league spokesman Tim Frank. Citing privacy issues, he couldn’t discuss why Michel departed in 2001.
A video obtained by TMZ, apparently taken by a fan with a cell phone, showed a person identified as Wilkins throwing at least two punches at a man in the first row before he was pulled away. After yanking off his tie and tossing aside his suit jacket, the 6-foot-8 Wilkins tried to get back at the man before several people stepped in, pushing him onto the court in front of the Hawks bench.
The Hawks said Wilkins would not comment on the incident. Michel called into the “Frank and Wanda Morning Show” on V-103 to give his side, claiming Wilkins punched him first.
“I went down and said, ‘Let’s handle this like men, work out a payment plan,’” Michel said. “The next thing I know … the security guard grabbed me and then (Wilkins) punches me.”
Michel said he already filed suit against Wilkins three months ago to recover the money he was owed, but was hoping to make a suitable arrangement without going to court. Now, he implied, there will be more legal action.
“My attorney is going to subpoena it all,” Michel said. “You’ll be able to see it when it’s all said and done.”
The 51-year-old Wilkins is also a vice president with the Hawks and perhaps the most famous player in team history. “The Human Highlight Film” scored nearly 27,000 points in his career and was induced into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2006.
The Associated Press left a message with a number listed for Michel.
“I don’t have any problems with guys owing me,” he told V-103. “Just make arrangements to pay me.”
Associated Press Writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.
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