Charlotte Hornets forward Anthony Mason was released from jail Tuesday after being accused of starting a riot and assaulting a police officer in the French Quarter.
Mason, 33, was arrested Monday night after being sprayed with pepper by officers, police spokesman Joseph Narcisse said.
Two officers noticed two groups of men arguing over women on Bourbon Street, Narcisse said.
When the officers tried to separate the groups, the six-foot-eight, 270-pound Mason hit one of the officers and began rallying the crowd, the spokesman said.
The officer who had been hit tried to subdue Mason with pepper spray, but with little effect, Narcisse said.
Other officers arrived and some in the crowd threw bottles and shouted racial slurs at police.
Mason fled and the crowd followed him, while police went to the 8th District station.
Mason later was arrested and taken to a hospital for treatment.
No officers were seriously hurt in the melee, Narcisse said.
Mason was booked with inciting a riot, battery on police officers and resisting arrest.
He was released from custody Tuesday.
Prosecutors will decide whether to formally charge Mason.
In a statement, a Hornets spokesman said the case would be reviewed.
"Once we receive all the details and talk to Anthony and the involved authorities, we will take appropriate action," Harold Kaufman said. "Any time a player is arrested, it's a major concern for us because we expect all our players to represent themselves and the organization in a professional manner."
Don Cronson, Mason's agent, said, "Anthony did not punch a police officer. Absolutely not. He was maced from behind, then maced a second time. It's disappointing one way or the other, but unless he is telling me something totally untrue, which has never happened, then this is unreasonable and the charges are unwarranted."
It was not Mason's first brush with the law.
He was arrested on two counts of misdemeanour assault in February after a scuffle outside a bar in New York.
The charges later were dropped when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to convict him.