NBA stars hit court

SAM PAZZANO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Three former Milwaukee Bucks basketball players will be in criminal court today on assault charges involving a dispute with an exotic dancer outside a downtown Toronto club two years ago.

Gary Payton, Sam Cassell and Jason Caffey -- who were members of the Bucks when the alleged altercation occurred -- weren't available yesterday at Old City Hall Court due to the U.S. Independence Day. But they will attend their trial today, Crown attorney Darren Hogan told Justice William Bassel.

In an earlier interview, defence lawyer Eddie Greenspan said the allegations will be vigorously defended by himself, his daughter, Julianna, and his law partner, Todd White.

It is alleged that Payton, 37, Cassell, 35, and Caffey, 32, committed an assault causing bodily harm against Adrian Cimpean, the then-boyfriend of exotic dancer Vida Asante, at the For Your Eyes Only night club on King St. W. on April 11, 2003.

It is alleged that the incident started after Payton invited Asante back to his hotel room.

A melee transpired and it is alleged that Payton assaulted Asante by pushing her, while Cassell allegedly assaulted Craig Broda, the club doorman. Payton also allegedly assaulted another exotic performer, Charmaine Thompson at the scene. She's expected to be one of the first witnesses at the trial.

None of the accused still play for the Bucks, who were facing the Raptors that night.

Payton is the marquee name among the trio of accused. He played on the American Dream Team that won Olympic gold in '96 and 2000 and was selected to the all-NBA defensive team for eight consecutive seasons. He was also named an NBA All Star for seven straight seasons (94-2001) and was a starter in '97 and '98. The 6-4, 180-pound guard's stellar career and his offensive output has sagged in recent seasons. He was traded to Boston last summer.

Cassell was an All Star in 2004. The 6-3, 185-pound guard has played for Houston, Phoenix, Dallas, New Jersey, Milwaukee and for Minnesota the last two seasons.

Caffey, a first-round choice of the Chicago Bulls, played on championship teams in '96 and '97 but hasn't played in the NBA since the 2003 season.


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