Britney Spears is speaking out about 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” as she approached Wembanyama to “congratulate him on his success.”
Spears ran into Wembanyama, the NBA’s 2023 No. 1 overall pick, in Las Vegas. While the singer prefaced 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 treat all people with respect.” As of Thursday afternoon, the “Toxic” singer claimed she had not gotten an apology from Wembanyama or the Spurs, but thanked the Las Vegas Police Department, who are investigating the incident.
Here’s what’s going on.
Spears breaks silence about ‘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 have 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 as I was heading to dinner. I later went to a restaurant at a different hotel and saw him again. I decided to approach him and congratulate him on his success. It was really loud, so I tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention. I am aware of the players statement where he mentions ‘I grabbed him from behind’ but I simply tapped him on the shoulder. His security then backhanded me in the face without looking back, in front of a crowd. Nearly knocking me down and causing my glasses off my face.
I get swarmed by people all the time. In fact that night, I was swarmed 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 out there already. However, I think it’s important to share this story and to urge people in the public eye to set an example and treat all people with respect.
Physical violence is happening too much in this world. Often behind close doors. I stand with al the victims and my heart goes out to all of you!!! I have yet to get a public apology from the player, his security or their organization. I hope they will…
I cherish the tremendous amount of love and support I am receiving at the moment. Thank you to the Las Vegas PD and the 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 he was walking into a restaurant with team security when everything went down. The 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… was calling me, ‘Sir, sir,’ and that person grabbed me from behind,” Wembanyama explained. “I didn’t see what happened because I was walking straight and didn’t stop. But that person grabbed me from behind, not on my shoulder, she grabbed me from behind. I just know that security pushed her away. I don’t know with how much force though, but security pushed her away.”
Wembanyama said he “didn’t stop to look” at who it was and continued walking into the restaurant so he could enjoy a nice dinner. He didn’t know it was Spears until “a couple hours” later.
“When I came back to the hotel … I didn’t forget about it, but I thought it was no big deal, and then the security of the Spurs told me it was Britney Spears,” he continued. “At first, I was like, ‘No, you’re joking.’ But yeah, turns out it was Britney Spears. I didn’t know ’cause I never saw her face. I just kept walking straight.”
Police launched a battery investigation
Yahoo has confirmed that Spears filed a police report after the confrontation, which apparently identifies Spurs director of team security Damian Smith as 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 spokesperson said on Thursday. “The incident has been documented on a police report and no arrest or citations have been issued.”
A criminal investigation is being conducted. TMZ, meanwhile, has reported the case will “likely” be sent to the district attorney’s office.
An eyewitness backs up Spears’s version
A man who saw everything go down at the Aria hotel told TMZ he saw Spears approach Wembanyama. Purportedly, she leaned in and said, “Excuse me, sir … excuse me, sir.” Spears apparently touched Wembanyama’s back and that’s when the witness claimed to see a Spurs security guard hit her in the face causing Spears’s sunglasses to fly off.
Sam Asghari watched the whole thing go down, too
Spears’s husband blasted the “coward” who allegedly hit his wife, but said Wembanyama isn’t at fault.
“The violent behavior of an out-of-control security guard should not cast a shadow on the accomplishment 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 disregard 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 cause her to be physically assaulted, much less being hit in the face for tapping someone on the shoulder,” he added.