EAST RUTHERFORD —
DeAndre Liggins knows exactly where he is in his NBA career, and he knows exactly who he is.
But based on recent events, it seemed a little contradictory to hear him say, “Character is who you are behind doors. I’m a good person.’’
It was behind closed door on the night of Aug. 31, 2013 that Liggins allegedly struck his girlfriend Jasmine Horton. He was charged the with three counts of domestic abuse, two counts of domestic assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, one count of kidnapping and one count of violating a protective order.
He was waived by the Oklahoma City Thunder less than a week after the incident.
There’s no excusing what Liggins did that night and he doesn’t try. What he does want is a second chance, one he knows he has to earn.
He is looking forward to doing community service, possibly talking to young men about the importance of respecting women and understanding that when emotions rule, a lifetime of hard work can be negated.
Liggins, 26, said that he and Horton are talking about getting engaged. He knows outsiders are skeptical of the relationship. But he sounds truly contrite when discussing his situation.
“I can’t control what people are going to think,’’ he said. “If they think I shouldn’t be with her. If I am with her, is it going to happen again?’’
“I love my girl. I’m sorry it happened. We had a bad day, a terrible day but I’ve just got to move forward and continue to improve as a player and a person on and off the court every day.’’
Of the 31 free agents that worked out for the Brooklyn Nets this week, Liggins is the only one that doesn’t have to prove he can play. He’s played 57 games in the NBA and was named the 2014 D-League Defensive Player of the Year.
He has to prove that the incident with Horton was an aberration. He has to prove that if an NBA team is willing to take a chance – a chance that might elicit some negative press – it won’t get burned.
Nets G.M. Billy King does not discuss any free agents.
“That was my first time ever getting in trouble,’’ said Liggins. “In 26 years I’ve never been in a position where I’ve been in a police department.’’
“So I’ve got to show teams that I’m the player that [former Orlando GM] Otis Smith drafted. I’m still with my family. I made a mistake. We’re moving on. I’ve learned from it.’’
“I got into one off the court issue. On the court, I was always on time, always first on the bus. The whole year I was with OKC, off the court, no complaints. On the court, I played hard.’’
Liggins, who played for John Calipari at Kentucky, (“He’s rooting for me,’’ said Liggins) is a hard, physical player. His basketball upbringing took play on the concrete courts of inner city Chicago.
At 6-6, 209, with great quickness and jumping ability, he is an ideal defender, his NBA calling card. He said he was another workout set with the Golden State Warriors.
“There are a lot of people that would vouch for me, the people that know me well will tell you I’m a good person,’’ said Liggins. “I’m not the first person in the NBA that got in trouble. That’s not an excuse. But I think everyone deserves a second chance.’’