Britney Spears speaks out on Wednesday’s incident involving San Antonio Spurs basketball player Victor Wembanyama’s security team. In a statement, the superstar singer claimed she was “backhanded” in “the face” when she approached Wembanyama to “congratulate him on his success”.
Spears ran into Wembanyama, the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2023, in Las Vegas. While the singer preceded her comments by saying it’s a “traumatic” and “super embarrassing” story to share, she said she wanted to tell her side to “urge people in the public eye to set an example and all treat people with respect.” As of Thursday afternoon, the “Toxic” singer claimed she had not received an apology from Wembanyama or the Spurs, but thanked the Las Vegas Police Department, which is investigating the incident.
Here’s what’s going on.
Spears breaks silence over ‘traumatic’ incident
Hours after the story made headlines, the singer released the following statement on social media:
Traumatic experiences are not new to me and I’ve had my fair share of them. I was not prepared for what happened to me last night. I recognized an athlete in my hotel lobby on my way to dinner. I later went to a restaurant in another hotel and saw him again. I decided to approach him and congratulate him on his success. It was very loud, so I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. I am aware of the player’s statement saying, “I grabbed him from behind,” but I just tapped him on the shoulder. His security then backhanded me to the face without looking back, in front of a mob. I almost knocked myself over and caused my glasses to fall off my face.
I am inundated with people all the time. That evening I was even overrun by a group of at least 20 fans. My security team didn’t hit any of them.
This story is super embarrassing to share with the world, but it’s already out there. However, I think it’s important to share this story and urge people in the public eye to set an example and treat all people with respect .
Physical violence happens too much in this world. Often behind closed doors. I stand behind all the victims and my heart goes out to all of you!!! I have yet to get a public apology from the player, their security or their organization. I hope they will…
I cherish the tremendous amount of love and support I am receiving at this time. Thank you to the Las Vegas Police Department and detectives for their support.
Wembanyama claims Spears “grabbed me from behind” so security “pushed her away.”
The NBA player spoke to ESPN about the incident, explaining that he walked into a restaurant with team security when everything went down. French-born Wembanyama, who has been touted as a basketball phenom, is in Las Vegas for the NBA’s Summer League. Prior to the outing, his security told him not to stop due to crowd concerns.
“One person… called me ‘sir, sir’ and that person grabbed me from behind,” Wembanyama explained. “I didn’t see what happened because I was walking straight ahead and didn’t stop. But that person grabbed me from behind, not on my shoulder, she grabbed me from behind. I just know security pushed her away. I don’t know not with how much force, but the security pushed her away.”
Wembanyama said he “didn’t stop to look” at who it was and walked further into the restaurant so he could enjoy a nice dinner. He didn’t know it was Spears until “a few hours” later.
“When I got back to the hotel… I didn’t forget, but I thought it wasn’t a big deal, and then Spurs security told me it was Britney Spears,” he continued. “At first I thought, ‘No, you’re kidding.’ But yeah, it turned out to be Britney Spears. I didn’t know because I never saw her face. I just kept walking straight.”
The police launched a battery investigation
Yahoo has confirmed that Spears has filed a police report following the confrontation, revealing that Spurs director of team security Damian Smith is the person who allegedly backhanded the singer.
“On July 5, 2023, at approximately 11 p.m., LVMPD officers responded to a property in the 3700 block of Las Vegas Boulevard regarding a battery investigation,” a police spokesman said Thursday. “The incident has been documented in a police report and no arrests or subpoenas have been issued.”
A criminal investigation is launched. TMZ, meanwhile, has reported that the case will “probably” be sent to the district attorney’s office.
An eyewitness supports Spears’s version
A man who saw everything happen at the Aria hotel told TMZ that he saw Spears approaching Wembanyama. She reportedly leaned forward and said, “Excuse me, sir…excuse me, sir.” Spears apparently touched Wembanyama’s back and then the witness claimed that a Spurs guard punched her in the face causing Spears’ sunglasses to fly off.
Sam Asghari also saw it happen
Spears’ husband denounced the “coward” who allegedly beat his wife, but said Wembanyama was not at fault.
“The violent behavior of a guard gone out of control should not cast a shadow over the accomplishments of a great young man on the rise. The blame should fall on the coward who did this, the people who hired him without proper vetting, and a systemic culture of contempt for women within sports and entertainment,” he wrote in part on Instagram.
“I can’t imagine a scenario where an unarmed female fan showing any kind of excitement or appreciation for a celebrity would get her to be physically assaulted, let alone punched in the face for punching someone on the shoulder. tap,” he added.