Charlotte Hornets rookie P.J. Hairston said Thursday that a serendipitous encounter with Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Gordon led to the two switching cars before Gordon's eventual DWI arrest, reports the Charlotte Observer.
According to Hairston, the pair ran into each other at a grocery store in Chapel Hill, N.C., last Friday. The two players' conversation turned to their cars, and they agreed to swap cars for the night.
Gordon was subsequently driving Hairston's car when the receiver was arrested on suspicion of DWI early Saturday morning. Gordon was bailed out of jail by Haydn "Fats" Thomas, a convicted felon who has a connection to Hairston: His gifted rental car led to Hairston's suspension and eventual separation from the North Carolina basketball program last year.
Hairston said he realized he could be in trouble when he found out Gordon had a connection with Thomas.
Later in the weekend, in a seemingly unrelated incident, Hairston was involved in a fight with a 17-year-old during a pickup basketball game. He will face charges of assault and battery and has an Aug. 8 court date.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford said he told Hairston he'd commit to his future, but only if the guard began holding himself accountable.
“What I told him the other day is, we need to start having more meetings about his defense and shot selection, and less about what he’s got to do to be a dependable player,” Clifford said. “The guys who do the right things off the floor give themselves the chance to do the right things on the floor. That just makes sense. It all fits together."
After playing for several months in the NBDL, Hairston was picked No. 26 overall in the NBA draft by the Miami Heat and subsequently traded to the Hornets in exchange for their pick of Shabazz Napier.
Gordon, who led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards last season despite being suspended two games for a positive drug test, faces a potential yearlong ban after another failed drug test.
- Ben Estes