Former Bulls player Ben Gordon pleads not guilty in disturbance at Connecticut shop

Gordon pleaded not guilty Tuesday to weapons and threatening charges.

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Ben Gordon

Former Bulls player Ben Gordon pleaded not guilty to weapons and threatening charges in connection with an incident at a Connecticut juice shop.

Lynne Sladky/AP

Former NBA guard Ben Gordon pleaded not guilty Tuesday to weapons and threatening charges in connection with a disturbance at a Connecticut juice shop in which police responding to reports of his erratic behavior forced him to the ground and handcuffed him.

Gordon, who also starred at the University of Connecticut when the Huskies won the 2004 NCAA championship, appeared in court in Stamford with his lawyer, Darnell Crosland, who entered the pleas.

After court, Crosland said in an interview that Gordon has struggled with his mental health and with what to do with his life after he retired from the NBA following the 2014-2015 season and an 11-year pro career.

“That passion he had while playing he still has, but it’s hard to navigate shark-infested waters post-league,” Crosland said, not elaborating on what he meant. “But he is doing his best and is now focusing on his family.”

Gordon may seek a diversionary program to settle the criminal charges, Crosland said. Gordon is due to return to court next month.

Gordon, who was born in England and grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, was arrested in April — on his 40th birthday and just hours after UConn won its fifth NCAA men’s basketball championship — at the Juice Kings shop in Stamford.

Police said several 911 callers reported that Gordon was acting aggressively and bizarrely. Gordon continued to act erratically when officers arrived, and they forced him to the ground and handcuffed him outside the store, authorities said.

Police said Gordon had a folding knife clipped to his pocket, as well as a stun gun and brass knuckles in his backpack.

Gordon has had other brushes with the law over the years. In October, he was charged with punching his son at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. In November, he was charged with a misdemeanor in Chicago on allegations he punched a McDonald’s security guard.

Gordon has pleaded guilty in the New York and Chicago cases, with the plea deals calling for no jail time, according to news reports.

Gordon has talked and written about his bipolar disorder and depression, which he said have played roles in his arrests.

During his NBA career, Gordon played for the Bulls, where he won the league’s Sixth Man Award as a rookie for the 2004-2005 season. He also played for Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando.

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