Britney Spears has claimed she was hit in the face by a security guard when she tried to tap a 7ft 4in tall NBA star on the shoulder.
The singer said she was “back handed” and nearly knocked to the ground after she approached Victor Wembanyama from behind as he walked into a hotel restaurant in Las Vegas.
In an emotional statement on Thursday, Spears described the incident on Wednesday night as a “traumatic experience” and said she hoped to get an apology from the player.
It came after the San Antonio Spurs star told reporters hours earlier that she had “grabbed me from behind”, and insisted that his security had only “pushed her away” – although he admitted he did not see the full incident.
The 19-year-old is considered one of basketball’s biggest prospects and was the first pick in the 2023 NBA Draft in New York last month.
But Spears, who is 5ft 4in tall, denied grabbing the athlete and said she had just been trying to talk to him.
She wrote on Twitter: “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 player’s statement where he mentions I ‘grabbed him from behind’ but I simply tapped him on the shoulder.
“His security then back handed me in the face without looking back, in front of a crowd. Nearly knocking me down and causing my glasses [to fall] off my face.”
She added: “This story is super embarrassing to share with the world but its [sic] 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.”
Spears’ husband Sam Asghari also spoke out, saying fans should blame “the coward who did this” rather than Wembanyama following the incident.
He wrote in a statement on Instagram: “Self-defence can be unavoidable, but the defence of any woman, especially my wife, is not debatable.
“I consider my reaction subdued considering what occurred, and I hope the man in question learns a lesson and changes his disregard for women.”
‘That person grabbed me from behind’
Rising star Wembanyama, who is the second tallest player in the NBA and has a wingspan of 8ft, had earlier told reporters: “I didn’t see what happened, because I was walking straight and we were told ‘Don’t stop’.
“But that person grabbed me from behind – not on my shoulder, she grabbed me from behind – so I just know the security pushed her away.
“I don’t know with how much force, though. But security pushed her away. I didn’t stop to look, so I could walk in and enjoy the nice dinner.”
The 19-year-old Frenchman added that he was unaware the woman was Spears until several hours later.
The TMZ website reported that the incident happened outside the CATCH seafood restaurant in Las Vegas’s Aria Hotel.
Las Vegas Police told Sky News in a statement: “On July 5, 2023, at approximately 11pm, LVMPD officers responded… regarding a battery investigation.
“The incident has been documented on a police report and no arrest or citations have been issued.”
“At first I was like, ‘No, you’re joking’,” he said. “But, yeah, it turns out it was Britney Spears,” he added.