When the controversial pop star sang “Hit me, baby, one more time,” she likely didn’t expect Victor Wembanyama‘s security team to take the lyric so literally.
Britney Spears was involved in a physical altercation Wednesday night in Las Vegas by an overzealous security guard of rising NBA star Victor Wembanyama’s security team, per TMZ. The 41-year-old celebrity later filed a police report.
Spears was with husband Sam Asghari, and two others at Catch, a seafood restaurant in the ARIA Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. She reportedly tapped the young French basketball prospect on the back of his right shoulder to get his attention.
At that point, Damian Smith, Director of Team Security for the San Antonio Spurs, backhanded her in the face, knocking her to the ground and the glasses off her face.
After the shocking altercation, Spears “composed herself” and returned to her table. TMZ reports the security member came to her table to apologize. He claimed that when he smacked her, he didn’t know who she was at the time.
“You understand how it is when you’re being swarmed by fans,” Smith told her.
At the time, Spears seemingly accepted the apology, but that changed when her security team intervened. After reportedly conferencing with the Spurs’ Director of Team Security following the incident, they filed a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department, alleging battery.
TMZ sources also report it “is not being handled as a criminal matter,” as cops determined Smith was not intentionally trying to hurt Britney but rather defend the 19-year-old San Antonio Spurs player.
The “Toxic” singer broke her silence on Thursday with a lengthy social media post, calling the altercation a “traumatic experience” that was both frightening and “super embarrassing.”
“Traumatic experiences are not new to me, and I have had my fair share of them,” she wrote. “I was not prepared for what happened to me last night.”
Spears wrote that she approached this year’s first-round draft pick — although she just acknowledges him as “an athlete” — to “congratulate him on his success” after seeing him at two different hotels. She wrote that she “tapped him on the shoulder” to get Wembanyama’s attention.
“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,” the Grammy winner penned.
Hours before Spears posted on Twitter, the NBA player spoke to ESPN regarding the altercation, explaining what happened after he walked into the restaurant with his security
Prior to the outing, his security told the French-born Wembanyama not to stop due to crowd concerns.
“One person… was calling me, ‘Sir, sir,’ and that person grabbed me from behind,” the 19-year-old explained. “I didn’t see what happened because I was walking straight and didn’t stop…I just know that security pushed her away. I don’t know with how much force, though, but security pushed her away.”
He said he “didn’t stop to look” at who the fan was and was unaware it was Spears until “a couple [of] 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.”
In her own account, Spears denies grabbing the NBA phenom, adding that she, too, was “swarmed by a group of at least 20 fans” that night but “my security team didn’t hit any of them.”
Spears said it was 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,” the star continued. “Often behind closed doors. I stand with all the victims, and my heart goes out to all of you!!!”
The celebrity singer then revealed she has yet to receive a public apology from the player she leaves unnamed, the San Antonio Spurs or their security.
Spears ended the statement by thanking fans for “the tremendous amounts of love and support” as well as the Las Vegas Police Department for its support.
Her husband blasted the “coward” who hit his wife but denied the French basketball player was at fault.
Britney Spears’ husband Sam Asghari releases statement after Victor Wembanyama’s security guard assaulted Britney:
“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” pic.twitter.com/UZEliRJBmL
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) July 6, 2023
“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,” Asghari 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.
The 7-foot-5 prospect is currently considered one of the most promising new stars in basketball, and he was the first-round pick by the Spurs in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The unfortunate accident casts a shadow on Wembanyama’s nascent NBA career, which will begin with an appearance in the Summer League this week — the very reason for his presence in Vegas in the first place.