Text size

Maccabi Tel Aviv center Will Bynum was arrested yesterday morning on suspicion of running over a young man outside a south Tel Aviv nightclub and of fleeing the scene of the accident. The alleged victim, a 22-year-old man from Dimona, was in a serious but stable condition last night at Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital.

Bynum's remand was extended last night until today by the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court.

Bynum told police that he did was unaware that he had hit anyone with his car. Police say that the player is cooperating with their inquiry, but that his version of events is substantially different from testimony provided by eyewitnesses.

Police believe that Bynum arrived at the G-Spot nightclub just before midnight on Friday to celebrate his 25th birthday. He was accompanied by his brother and was joined by a few friends, including his Maccabi Tel Aviv teammate and former Philadelphia 76ers star Vonteego Cummings. Police say there were also players from other teams at the nightclub, which is popular with professional athletes.

"During the course of the night," the officer in charge of the investigation, Rafi Regev, said, "some sort of spat developed between Bynum and another group at the nightclub - members of the Hebrew Israelite Community in Dimona.

Bynum rejected the youths' claim that the argument began when he made advances toward a woman from the Dimona group. Bynum said he was provoked into a scuffle when one of the group pushed him over. The scuffle quickly died down and the club's security staff were not called in. When Bynum, his brother and Cummings left the club at around 5:30, however, he was greeted outside by five youths from Dimona, and within minutes fists and stones were flying. According to eyewitnesses, Bynum and his brother ran to his car, which was parked nearby, got in and drove toward the group. After hitting one member of the group, Bynum sped off.

Police say that when they arrived at Bynum's apartment some two hours later he did not appear surprised to see them, but protested his innocence when told of the accusations against him. An inspection of Bynum's car found obvious indications of an accident, including bloodstains. Cummings and Bynum's brother were detained, but released after submitting depositions.

Eyewitness accounts and forensic evidence would seem to dispel any doubt that the 22-year-old was run over. Ppolice will now have to determine whether Bynum was aware that he had hit someone, or whether - in the heat of the moment - he was genuinely unaware that someone had been hurt.

Maccabi Tel Aviv chairman Shimon Mizrahi, who represented Bynum in court (while David Federman provided the player with simultaneous translation of the hearing), told the court, "When Will Bynum left the nightclub, there were 20 people waiting for him outside, one of them carrying a knife."

Before last night's arraignment, however, Mizrahi called a press conference at which he said that the team would punish Bynum and Cummings severely if it was proved that they were involved in any wrongdoing.