NEW YORK (AP) A band of masked robbers boxed in New York Knicks player Cleanthony Early's cab with their vehicles as he left a strip club Wednesday, demanding his ''gold'' before shooting him in the leg, law enforcement officials said.
Early was in an Uber cab at around 4:30 a.m. outside CityScapes in Queens when his vehicle was surrounded by at least two other cars and as many as six men got out, the two officials said. Early handed over two gold chains before he was shot in the right kneecap, the officials said. The men drove off.
Early, 24, was hospitalized in stable condition.
The two law enforcement officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the victim's name.
The team said in a brief statement that it was aware of an incident involving Early and ''relieved that he is not in a life-threatening situation.''
Police were searching for suspects and trying to determine if it was a carefully planned attack or a spur-of-the-moment hit.
The 6-foot-8 Early was selected by New York in the second round of the 2014 NBA Draft following his senior season at Wichita State University. The Bronx native 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 during 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.
In April, Indiana Pacers forward Chris Copeland, his girlfriend and another woman were stabbed following an argument on the street near a Manhattan nightclub that led to the arrest of two Atlanta Hawks players. The players were later acquitted of charges of resisting arrest.