New York Knicks Forward, Cleanthony Early was shot in the knee by a ski-masked robbers after a late-night strip club visit and was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center in stable condition, authorities said.
Based on preliminary information, police said it appeared Early had just left the CityScapes gentleman’s club with girlfriend Iliani Douge around 4:30 a.m. when three vehicles surrounded an Uber cab he was in and a group of people — at least one of whom was armed — ordered him to get out of the vehicle.
Early handed over his gold chains before he was shot, police said. The second-year player was relieved of his iPhone, two gold chains — and even the gold caps right off his teeth, the Daily News reported.
After the shooting, the men drove off. The Uber driver and Early’s girlfriend were uninjured, and the driver was robbed only of his identification.
A statement from the Knicks said the team is aware “of what occurred with Cleanthony Early this morning and are relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation.
“We will not comment any further until we receive more information,” the statement added.
Early, 24, is the second Knicks player to be targeted recently. The theft comes about 10 days after Knicks forward Derrick Williams was robbed of $617,000 in jewelry from his home by two women whom he had taken home from a Manhattan club, ESPN reported.
Other NBA players, like Jahlil Okafor of the 76ers and Thabo Sefolosha of the Hawks, have been involved in similarly scary incidents over the past few months.
Early, a native of the Bronx, was selected by New York in the second round of the 2014 draft following his senior season at Wichita State, was hospitalized in stable condition early Wednesday. A spokesperson for Elmhurst Hospital said later Wednesday that Early was released and transferred to another facility.
Yahoo! Sports earlier reported an MRI revealed no structural damage and that surgery would not be needed at this time.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher said he spoke with Early on Wednesday morning.
“He’s doing OK,” Fisher said. “I don’t think we’ve got enough of a medical update to assume everything is OK, but relatively, he’s doing well. It doesn’t appear to be life-threatening at this point. But obviously, until you’re released from the hospital I think we also have to be cautious.”
Fisher later said: “The most important thing is that it appears at least that he’s going to still be with us and hopefully be back with our team soon. To what extent of the injury, etc, we won’t know that for now. But for sure, to know that he’s still here and doing relatively well, as well as you could be, I think we’ll take that.”
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony said he was “shocked” to hear the news, saying Early is “a very humble guy who stays to himself.”
Anthony, who has played in New York for nearly five years, believes he and his teammates need to be cautious when out in public.
“You have to be careful,” he said. “You have to be aware of kind of what you’re doing and your surroundings and where you’re at. … Guys are going to go out. Guys are going to have a good time. I think we just have to be a little bit more aware and a little bit more conscious of where we’re at, who we’re around, our surroundings, who’s in our circles and things like that.”
A 6-foot-8 forward, he has seen action in 10 of the Knicks’ 33 games this season and is averaging 0.7 points per game. He played for less than a minute in the Knicks’ 108-96 win over Detroit on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Early missed two months of the 2014-15 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, the same one injured in Wednesday’s shooting.
No suspects have been arrested in the incident.