Basketball star Corey Webster says he was insulted with a homophobic slur before a brawl broke out at an Auckland bar, a court has heard.
The 28-year-old NBA hopeful is on trial at the North Shore District Court charged with assault after a midnight tussle at Takapuna Bar on November 30 last year.
Earlier today Judge Ajit Singh, who had "a lot of qualms and unease" about witness testimony, ruled one of the two assault charges against Webster could not continue under an allegation of punching.
He later ruled the assault charge would be amended to proceed on the accusation that Webster allegedly pulled a man's hoodie during the fracas.
The former NZ Breakers player has also been charged with assault for pulling a man's beard while enjoying birthday drinks with friends earlier in the night.
This afternoon, the 1.88m Webster took to the witness stand to describe the night from his perspective.
After the shooting guard and his group arrived at the bar, musician Michael Tilton came to his table outside to collect donations for Starship Hospital's Shaving Santa fundraiser, he said.
Tilton gave evidence claiming Webster pulled at his Santa-like beard four to five times in an "embarrassing, humiliating and painful" manner.
However, Webster said he and Tilton "joked back and forth" about the musician's long beard, which had been dyed white for the Christmas charity appeal.
"I didn't think it was real, that was my first impression of his beard," Webster said.
"He said, 'yeah, you can pull on it and see if it's real'.
"We had a joke about it, he laughed about it, I laughed about it and we shook hands."
Webster denied Hilton's claim that he pulled the beard hard enough for hair to fall out, or that he had dragged Hilton to one knee.
Later in the evening Webster was interrupted by another patron as he talked to a friend in the bar's bathroom.
"[My friend] was leaning on the door, someone pushed on the door," he said.
After not being able to enter the bathroom the man, who Webster described as a large Polynesian man, began to yank on the door.
"Get out of the bathroom you fag**ts," Webster said the man yelled in an aggressive manner.
"We just brushed it off and said 'whatever', and maybe exchanged some words and then continued to our outdoor area."
Webster said his group were abused again by the Polynesian man and his friends.
"Those fag**ts over there were blocking the door," Webster said the man yelled.
"There was quite a few, mainly just calling us fag**ts. We exchanged words for them to shut the 'f' up."
Webster said he was then alerted to a smashing noise near the opposing group's table, before the Polynesian man approached Webster's group "acting as if he wanted to fight".
"One of my friends at the table stood up and intercepted him as he was approaching our table. They had an altercation ... It was a physical altercation."
He said several people then stood up and it appeared a brawl was brewing.
"I sought of just braced myself as though a fight was going to break out because I knew he was with other people.
"I was aware of what was happening, and I guess, sort of ready in case someone was going to try something with me."
He said a man, later identified as Joungmin Namkung, "just appeared right in front of me".
"I grabbed him by the shirt ... I said 'what the f*** are you doing?'"
Webster said he believed Namkung was possibly approaching him in a confrontational manner.
"I grabbed him by the shirt and pushed him back."
Webster accepted he grabbed Namkung by the collar of his hoodie in an effort to "keep him at arm's length".
"I didn't know if he was trying to attack me, I just reacted to a man coming towards me in that situation."
Webster said he then noticed his girlfriend had been pushed to the ground, and the pair left the bar and stood on the footpath.
Police later arrested Webster over the affray.
"No, I'm not proud of it," Webster said about his interaction with arresting officer Constable Davide Mella.
"I said some things to him that I shouldn't have said. I said he was being racist.
"I would apologise to him, I understand he was just trying to do his job."
Judge Singh reserved his decision until July 31.
Webster was granted bail and allowed to travel overseas where he will join the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA's Summer League in Las Vegas in the coming days.