A Denver Nuggets fan may have helped land two Jazz players in hot water with Park City police.
Jazz rookies Robert Whaley and Deron Williams were issued class C misdemeanor citations Wednesday for allegedly lying to police about their identities following a scuffle at a Park City club over the weekend.
Whaley also admitted Wednesday that he lied about how he sustained a laceration to his right hand that required six stitches to close.
Because of the injury, big man Whaley did not play in the Jazz's Delta Center win over Portland on Wednesday night. Point guard Williams did, returning to the starting lineup after missing Monday's victory over Detroit because of dizzy spells the team said were brought on by an ear infection.
Jazz basketball operations senior vice president Kevin O'Connor said Whaley will be disciplined, but it appears for now that his place on the team is safe.
"There will be some form of punishment," O'Connor said. "What that punishment will be I don't know yet.
"With actions come consequences," he added, "and there are going to be some consequences with this."
O'Connor also said it remains to be seen if Williams also will be disciplined by the team.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, meanwhile, sounded ready to put the matter to rest: "He apologized," Sloan said of Whaley. "That's all you can do."
The incident occurred about 1:15 a.m. Sunday at Harry O's on Main Street in Park City when a Boulder, Colo., man, Affan Arslanagic, 29, apparently picked a fight with Williams and Whaley inside the club, Park City Police Lt. Rick Ryan said.
The avid Denver Nuggets fan apparently was very vocal in expressing his dislike for the Jazz, Ryan said.
There also were allegations of racial epithets from bar patrons toward the Jazz players.
Ryan said the argument became heated and Arslanagic at one point threw a beer bottle, striking and fracturing a club employee's arm.
Arslanagic was arrested for investigation of assault and was booked into the Summit County Jail. He later was released on bail.
Whaley apparently was injured while at the bar, but he maintains it happened before the incident with Arslanagic unfolded.
"Saturday evening I accidentally cut my hand on a glass while at an establishment in Park City," Whaley said, reading from a statement Wednesday night apparently prepared with the assistance of team officials. "This accident is unrelated to any altercation."
Witnesses reportedly saw Whaley cut the hand while trying to get a piece of hard candy from a glass container, though it remains somewhat unclear whether that happened before or after the disagreement began.
Ryan, who said details of Whaley's hand injury were unclear, did say Arslanagic did not use the broken glass as a weapon.
The Jazz players, Arslanagic and a couple of others were thrown out of the club, but the scuffle continued on the street. When officers arrived, they found seven people "in the middle of Main Street yelling at each other, gesturing at each other and throwing garbage cans," Ryan said.
At one point, a garbage can reportedly was hurled at the car of one of the Jazz players.
The Jazz maintain the incident was merely "a verbal altercation."
Officers questioned those involved, but Whaley and Williams allegedly gave them false names Whaley claimed to be Bobby Wiliams, and Williams said he was Torrey Ellis.
"They used fictitious names and dates of birth when the officers asked for information," Ryan said.
However, while sorting out the details, one of the officers overheard one player tell someone that he did indeed play for the Jazz. When the officer returned to his office, he pulled up the Jazz's Web site on his computer and was able to identify two of those allegedly involved in the incident, Ryan said.
Williams may have been helping to cover for Whaley, who feared losing his job with the team.
The officer contacted the Jazz organization, and on Wednesday, Whaley and Williams, along with a couple of other Jazz representatives, voluntarily showed up at the Park City Police Department to take care of the matter.
The players were interviewed by police, cited and then released.
The Jazz also conducted an investigation of its own into the matter, and NBA officials were made aware of the incident, O'Connor said.
"Robert Whaley and Deron Williams were in an establishment on Main Street in Park City late Saturday," the team said in a prepared statement. "A verbal altercation took place, but there were no injuries sustained by Jazz players."
Whaley told the team Sunday that he cut his hand in a kitchen-knife mishap involving his son, and told reporters the same tale Monday.
"Yeah," O'Connor said, "he lied to us, to you."
Whaley whose checkered past includes a statutory-rape charge that ended in a mistrial when he was a high school senior in Michigan and two felony counts plea-bargained to receive probation after a campus brawl at a community college in Kansas conceded as much Wednesday night.
"I was concerned about this accident might appear because of alleged troubles I have had in the past," Whaley, who did not answer questions, said while reading the statement. "I made up a story about an accident involving my son and a knife. That story was not true.
"I made an error in judgment hoping to avoid any negative consequences concerning my position with the Utah Jazz," he continued. "I should have told the truth, and I apologize to (Jazz owner) Larry (H. Miller), my coaches, my teammates, the fans, the media and my family."
Williams did field questions about the matter before Wednesday's game, but mostly declined comment.
At one point he said, "I don't know what you're talking about." When asked about allegedly using the name Torrey Ellis,' Williams said, "I don't know him."
O'Connor said the two of-age players Whaley is 23, Williams 21 were not violating any team policy by being at the bar.
"There was no curfew," he said. "Robert's over 21. As far as that goes, he was certainly within his right as an adult to be in the place where he was out.Comment on this story
"You'd like to think stupidity would enter into it with practice the next morning, but if we didn't have a curfew, and we weren't in a situation where he was required to be somewhere, I'd like to say that you can't go back and find somebody guilty and say that after the fact 'You should have known better, we didn't want you out at that time.' "
Ryan said the investigation was continuing and additional witnesses needed to be interviewed. He said there could be additional charges against others but he did not believe there would be any further action against the Jazz players.
In fact, he said, Whaley and Williams would have probably just walked free if they had simply told the truth."This all could have been avoided if they told the truth," Ryan said. "We wouldn't have been dealing with it on this level if they hadn't lied to the officers."