Storyline: Zion Williamson Lawsuit

31 rumors in this storyline

NBA star Zion Williamson’s attorneys on Monday called his former agent’s allegations he violated NCAA rules at Duke “unsubstantiated conjecture” as they seek relief from a federal judge in their contract dispute. In court documents filed in Greensboro at the U.S. District Court for North Carolina’s Middle District and obtained by the News & Observer, Williamson’s attorneys charge Gina Ford with “an effort to point the finger at Williamson and his family, levying a stream of offensive and baseless insinuations.”

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“Rather than defend their conduct,” the court filing stated, “defendants seek to shift the focus with salacious and false rumors from unreliable sources outside the pleadings. Defendants cite Wikipedia articles, Zillow estimates and hearsay ruled inadmissible by other federal judges. They even embrace rank speculation that Duke intentionally violated NCAA regulations by certifying Williamson’s eligibility. Defendants allegations are baseless and, more importantly for purposes of this motion, irrelevant.”

In an attempt to call into question Williamson’s status as a student-athlete, Prime Sports has accused Williamson of accepting improper benefits to attend Duke. In their latest court filing, Williamson’s legal team called those accusations “baseless, but more importantly for purposes of this motion, irrelevant.” Williamson’s lawyers went to argue that the agreement between Williamson and Prime Sports is void due to the Uniform Athletes Agents Act, which requires agents to register with the state while they are in contact with student-athletes.

Attorneys representing a marketing director who is suing Zion Williamson filed a subpoena on Wednesday to “Produce Documents, Information, or Objections or to Permit Inspection of Premises in a Civil Action on the following”: 1. NCAA, LLC R/A Douglas J. Kosek 413 W. Jefferson Blvd. South Bend, IN. 46601 Only problem: the NCAA is in Indianapolis not South Bend, and Doug Kosek is a dentist. I tried to call Dr. Kosek at his office. Kelly, one of his receptionists, called back and said he was seeing patients but was rather amused — and confused — about how her kindly boss, who’s known for his “smile and warm demeanor,” according to the DK Dental website, might get drawn into this whole thing.

Later, co-attorneys Alvin Pittman and Lorenzo Williams called and when told they filed an intent to subpoena to a dentist, Williams responded, “Wow.” At first, Pittman said they had not made an error, insisting that the subpoena went to whoever was listed as the recipient in the office. When told that Kosek, again, is a dentist, Pittman paused and said, “It must be a clerical error. We are unaware of everything that gets done. We don’t do all of the typing. Obviously, this is a mistake we need to look into.” Williams said it can be corrected; when asked about such a grievous error in a case of such magnitude and attention, Pittman replied, “Certainly we understand that. We don’t want to have so much as a typo.”

Attorneys representing a marketing director who is suing Zion Williamson filed a subpoena on Wednesday to “Produce Documents, Information, or Objections or to Permit Inspection of Premises in a Civil Action on the following”: 1. NCAA, LLC R/A Douglas J. Kosek 413 W. Jefferson Blvd. South Bend, IN. 46601 Only problem: the NCAA is in Indianapolis not South Bend, and Doug Kosek is a dentist. I tried to call Dr. Kosek at his office. Kelly, one of his receptionists, called back and said he was seeing patients but was rather amused — and confused — about how her kindly boss, who’s known for his “smile and warm demeanor,” according to the DK Dental website, might get drawn into this whole thing.

Later, co-attorneys Alvin Pittman and Lorenzo Williams called and when told they filed an intent to subpoena to a dentist, Williams responded, “Wow.” At first, Pittman said they had not made an error, insisting that the subpoena went to whoever was listed as the recipient in the office. When told that Kosek, again, is a dentist, Pittman paused and said, “It must be a clerical error. We are unaware of everything that gets done. We don’t do all of the typing. Obviously, this is a mistake we need to look into.” Williams said it can be corrected; when asked about such a grievous error in a case of such magnitude and attention, Pittman replied, “Certainly we understand that. We don’t want to have so much as a typo.”

A Florida appeals court has granted Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson’s motion to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. The order Wednesday shifts the focus to a separate but related case between the same litigants in federal court in North Carolina. The Florida lawsuit, filed last summer by Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford, accused Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract and seeks $100 million in damages.

Attorneys for Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent are continuing their legal push to examine whether the former Duke All-American accepted improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils, allegations the NBA rookie’s attorney said are “baseless.” Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford last summer in a Florida, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. That came after Williamson had a week earlier in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

A Florida appeals court has temporarily granted NBA rookie Zion Williamson’s attempt to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. The order Thursday granted Williamson a stay and paused proceedings in the lawsuit from Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford, whose attorneys must respond within 10 days. That lawsuit filed last summer accused Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Williamson had filed his own lawsuit a week earlier in North Carolina to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

A Florida judge on Tuesday ruled that lawyers representing a marketing agent in a lawsuit against Zion Williamson can proceed with discovery regarding the eligibility of the former Duke star. The decision is the latest step in what is proving to be a contentious case between Williamson and Gina Ford, a Florida-based marketing rep who says the top pick of last year’s NBA Draft reneged on a signed deal that engaged Ford to handle future endorsement deals. Ford is merely seeking financial damages, but the case could have even bigger implications for Duke, as part of her defense is that Williamson received impermissible benefits during his one season with the Blue Devils.

During Monday’s Zoom hearings, the two sides argued the merits of exploring Williamson’s eligibility. Jeffrey Klein, representing Williamson, dismissed Ford’s claim as “fanciful,’’ while Ford’s attorney Willie Gary accused Williamson of trying to evade the truth. “If this complaint was so frivolous and if they had nothing to hide, your honor, why not let this man give a deposition? We’ve adjusted our schedules. We gave them their opportunity to give us dates for it. They gave us dates, and now they want to back out on them.” Gray later added, “They are trying to duck and dodge being put on the stand, raising your right hand and telling the truth.’’

Attorneys for NBA rookie Zion Williamson seek to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. In a Florida court filing last week, Williamson’s attorneys say those questions are “nothing more than a fishing expedition aimed at tarnishing Williamson’s reputation” and designed to “maximize potential embarrassment and media coverage in an attempt to improperly gain settlement leverage.”

In North Carolina, agents who wish to represent athletes in marketing or contract negotiations are required to register with the state before they make contact with anyone who has amateur status. It is a relatively cheap and easy process. It costs $200 to submit an application, a paltry sum for those who are getting a cut of six- and seven-figure deals. The legal drama between Zion Williamson and Gina Ford, a marketing representative for Prime Sports, has brought this law, which is called the Uniform Athlete Agents Act, into focus.

Williamson signed an agreement with Prime Sports in April 2019, days after he declared for the NBA draft. Roughly a month later, Williamson parted ways with Prime Sports and signed with the behemoth Creative Artists Agency. Ford is suing the Pelicans’ rookie on the grounds that he breached their contract. “It’s a very straightforward claim that doesn’t depend on a lot of discovery to be established,” said Daniel Wallach, a legal analyst for The Athletic and the founder of a law firm that focuses on sports gambling. “It really doesn’t look at behavior as much as when the behavior took place. Having contact with a student-athlete is absolutely forbidden when he’s engaged in intercollegiate sports unless the agent is registered.”

Darren Heitner: Zion Williamson has filed a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings in his federal court litigation against former marketing agents. Focus is on failure to register as an athlete agent & include requisite disclosures under NC’s athlete agent law.

These rather explosive questions factor in because the lawyers argue that if they can prove Williamson was paid before or during his tenure at Duke, he would be ineligible and thereby no longer a student-athlete. “It doesn’t matter when the contract is entered into. If you’re no longer a student-athlete, the rules of the NCAA no longer apply,’’ Ford’s attorney Larry Strauss said. “The nuance is that this does not just apply to him. Any third party that acted as an agent, his parent or handlers, all of their actions can also affect eligibility.’’ Both parties have sought dismissal of the other’s case, but each has been denied.

Among the 11 bullet points from 5-15, the documents posted by Wallach shows a list of items alleging that he received “money, benefits, favors or others things of value” to sign with the Blue Devils for the 2018-19 college basketball season and wear or use the aforementioned brands. The served requests name Williamson and his mother and stepfather, Sharonda Sampson and Lee Anderson, and Ford is trying to make him say “yes or no” under oath regarding whether or not he accepted the impermissible benefits.
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July 5, 2020 | 7:20 pm EDT Update
Fox, a 22-year-old point guard who will soon be eligible for a massive contract extension, intends to lead the Kings for years to come. Fox made that clear in a series of previously unpublished interviews with The Sacramento Bee before the NBA suspended its season due to the coronavirus pandemic. He reaffirmed those feelings Wednesday in a Zoom call with reporters from Golden 1 Center, where the Kings are preparing to resume their season at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. “It’s all the same,” Fox said. “… I see myself being here. I want to be here.”
Storyline: De'Aaron Fox Extension
“I want to be here,” Fox said. “Obviously, I want to win, but I want to do it here. It’s been, what — 13, 14 years since the last time the Kings made the playoffs? I want to be a part of the first one. “Obviously, we all want to win. There are some things we know we need to work on as a team, and I’m here for that. Every team has gone through it, probably not as long as the Kings have, but I want to be a part of that. I want to be able to get to the playoffs with this team, and, hopefully, when I’m a veteran in this league, be able to be a (championship) contender.”
Revenue losses stemming from the COVID-19 crisis and the NBA’s frayed relationship with China could result in a significant reduction in the salary cap. Max contracts are calculated based on the salary cap, so any reduction in the cap would cause a corresponding decline in max contract figures. As a result, the Kings might end up saving money on Fox’s new deal, but league executives and agents say there is too much uncertainty to project how much a cap hit might impact the team’s books or Fox’s future earnings. “It’s just way too premature to predict what’s going to happen,” Priority Sports and Entertainment CEO Mark Bartelstein said. “There’s just so much to play out in the next few months.”
After receiving the results of a Friday round of testing for the coronavirus, the Milwaukee Bucks shut down the team’s practice facility for workouts until the team departs for Orlando, Florida, this week, sources told ESPN. It was not immediately clear if there was more than one positive test, but the team plans to keep the facility closed for workouts until the team’s traveling party departs for the league’s restart in Orlando on Thursday, sources said.
Storyline: Coronavirus
July 5, 2020 | 6:47 pm EDT Update
The Rockets plan to travel to Orlando later this week and will play their first of eight “seeding” games on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks. The Rockets are assured of one of eight playoff spots in the Western Conference and are tied for fifth place with the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the Mavericks 1½ games behind. “The team that catches a rhythm first, kind of has an advantage overall,” Covington said of his expectations for the abbreviated sprint to the NBA’s finish line this season.
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
He recalled that he and his cousin and two other youths were playing football in the street and occasionally running into a neighbor’s yard. The neighbor told the children to stay out of his yard, and Covington said he and his cousin obliged. The other two kids did not, and the man called the police. The officers began to detain all four of the youths, even though the neighbor told police Covington and his cousin had done nothing wrong. “The cop didn’t care; he arrested all of us,” Covington said. “He put is in the back of the car and took us down to the station. I got stuck in the car – I was too tall and my foot was wedged in between (the front seats). I told the officer I couldn’t get out. He said if you don’t get out of this car, I’m going to break your leg to get you out.”
July 5, 2020 | 2:38 pm EDT Update
July 5, 2020 | 1:47 pm EDT Update
As for next month’s challenge, Marlowe is confident that he and his color analyst, Scott Hastings, can interpret and call the games from afar. “It’s certainly a technique on how to do it,” he said. “You can’t always see clearly or hear clearly an official’s decision. You can’t interpret it because you’re not right there, so it takes a little bit of imagination.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:10 pm EDT Update
For the most part, the players are feeling pretty comfortable with the health and safety precautions that the NBA has put in place, and believe that the league is doing every thing within their power to mitigate risk related to the coronavirus. It all looks good in theory and on paper, but how it will all work once the players are actually there is another thing entirely. “I’m sure there will be some changes once we get down there, and they see that some things worked and some things didn’t,” Georges Niang said on Thursday.
As far as the actual games go, the players aren’t worried about playing without fans or how the schedule was decided on. They’re just excited to get to play again. “We miss playing the game of basketball,” Niang said. “We miss our day jobs so I think for the most part we’re excited to get down there and use our platform for social issues and be safe while doing that. The NBA has set up an environment that’s given us the right safety protocols to move in the right direction to be able to play.”
The insinuation was that players would not be able to be away from their sexual partners for such a long time. “Forget three months, they’re gonna struggle with three weeks,” Smith yelled. Do the Jazz think that players will break the rules of the bubble? “If they do, that’s them,” O’Neale said, dismissing the notion. “I’m single, I’m by myself, I ain’t got nothing to worry about. Quarantine life was kind of easy for me. I just played video games and hung out with my dog, so I think it’ll kind of be the same thing. Just without my dog. I’ll be alright.”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Rick Carlisle: “On the heels of George Floyd’s death on May 25, the head coaches got together on a Zoom call which was put together very quickly. We talked about the things that are going on in the world. Lloyd Pierce, who is the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks, made a very passionate speech to the entire group about his feelings about everything. He was immediately appointed the chair of the NBA coaches committee on racial injustice and reform. That committee met on Zoom calls probably five times and filtered through a lot of different things to the point where now on a national level we’re under the Obama Foundation …”
Rick Carlisle: “In Dallas, I’m partnering with Mothers Against Police Brutality. We’ve met many times on Zoom. We had an in-person meeting with the mayor. We had a virtual meeting with T.C. Broadnax, the city manager. We had another meeting with [Dallas police chief] Renee Hall. So we’ve gotten into good conversations there. Our initiative, the final title of it, is NBA Coaches for Racial Justice. We will have a pin that we wear. A big part of what we’re doing, because we’re coaches, we’re teachers and we’re educators.”
July 5, 2020 | 1:00 pm EDT Update
Perhaps the most difficult injury to return and recover from is a ruptured achilles, but not only has Rodney Hood put in the work off the court, he is also putting a tremendous amount of work on the court. The Portland Trail Blazers tweeted a video of the former Duke basketball player rising up to the rim, albeit in a controlled and cautious way as he works his way back to the court.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith was the one to throw the San Antonio Spurs head coach’s name in the mix, but there’s been no word about the idea since. Not until Nets general manager Sean Marks was asked about the possibility on WFAN’s Joe & Evan on Friday: Pop has a job. So I will say that. And, obviously, we all know he’s an amazing, amazing coach — and to be quite frank, an even better leader. So I’ll let Pop continue to coach for the Spurs. He owes it to them and they owe it to him. I’m sure he’s quite happy there.
When he gets back to the head coaching search, Marks intends to talk to Brooklyn’s “key players” about who will run the show next. And he specifically mentioned Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving when addressing the matter on WFAN: It would be probably, you know, not incredibly smart of us if we did not involve some of these key players in this decision. That only goes to Kevin, I think it’s — you know, Kevin and Kyrie, we’re gonna pick their brains on what they are looking for in a leader, what they want in a coach, what they need. I think these guys have been brutally honest so far.
Storyline: Nets Coaching Job
Jamaal Wilkes said he’s proud to be an American and wants law and order while at the same time seeing the need for change in the wake of demonstrations after the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. “I’m not an activist. I’m not in the guts of the stuff, but we need some kind of reform with the police department (while) recognizing that the majority are good police,” Wilkes said in a recent conversation with the Bay Area News Group’s Wes Goldberg. “And they are probably as sick and embarrassed and disgusted with the Floyd incident as most of the country is.”
The Floyd murder during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jamaal Wilkes: “On one hand, it was very shocking and disturbing. On the other hand, it’s nothing new . . . it was unbelievable. It was horrible and no one could deny it because there was footage. That, along there being no sports, brought it to a head. I think that all lives matter, of course, but it’s only black lives that are being murdered. We can no longer tip-toe or ignore the elephant in the room, which is systemic racism, white privilege.”
July 5, 2020 | 12:42 pm EDT Update

Jared Sullinger wants back in the NBA

On Saturday, The Basketball Tournament kicked off and Jared Sullinger was on the sideline for Carmen’s Crew. He was the coach of the team filled mostly with Ohio State alumni. It’s a role he relishes. Yet it’s not a role he wants to assume permanently. Sullinger, the Celtics’ first-round pick in 2012 who enjoyed four solid seasons with the club, still has aspirations of returning to the NBA. He’s only 28 but hasn’t played in the league in three years. His post-Celtic career lasted just 11 games with the Raptors, and then Sullinger learned about the harsh reality of being injured and considered damaged goods.
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He has recovered fully. Sullinger is married and the father of twins. He reflects on his Celtics years fondly but hopes he’s not done gobbling up rebounds with his burly frame. “I want to play and, of course, the NBA is the ultimate goal,” he said. “The last two years I just felt like I had to find myself. I had to find something that drives me and makes me want to play. In the NBA, you kind of get lost in the shuffle because you have so many games, and when I got out there in [the Chinese Basketball Association] it was kind of a retreat for Jared Sullinger to learn himself and fall in love with the game again.”
Smith aspires to be a general manager, but the NBA has had issues in recent years with diversity in front offices. He hopes that recent events will cause the NBA power structure to closely examine hiring. “To think people don’t gravitate toward people who are like them, look like them, or are like-minded, then you don’t understand the basis of stereotypes and racism, which is two different things,” he said. “If I make my decisions based on race and not having the ability to have the opportunity, then I’m a racist. It’s a simple process. White America is like how do I figure it out? You’re making the decision and you’re taking into account that it will hinder someone based on their race. That’s a racist act, period.”
What bothers Smith and many other former players is that front office candidates who did not play the game but are astute analytically are somehow seen as more qualified than former players. “You mean to tell me LeBron James couldn’t put a team together? He puts it together now. You’re telling me his production and consumption of information is not more valuable than someone who’s never played the game? It’s impossible. It’s an awareness.”
Though Marlowe said he would’ve preferred the NBA scrap the regular-season games and jump straight to the playoffs, he did find an advantage for the Nuggets. Their grueling schedule, featuring games against both Los Angeles teams, the Raptors and the Thunder, is a perfect primer for the postseason, he said. The Nuggets were 15-11 against teams that were .500 or better throughout the season, which was a better record than all but three teams in the NBA. In addition, as Marlowe pointed out, seeding doesn’t really matter since there’s no homecourt advantage. “I think the eight play-in games are interesting because I believe six of the last eight for the Nuggets were going to be played away from Pepsi Center, so the Nuggets don’t have to do that,” he said. “That being said, I don’t think winning is the preeminent goal in these (seeding) games. I don’t think it really matters to the Nuggets to finish third, fourth, fifth or sixth. I think the key is, can coach Malone and the rest of the coaches get this team playing at its zenith in these eight games and going into the playoffs?”
Storyline: Orlando Bubble
Meanwhile, high atop the Chicago skyline, Bosh was in a conference room receiving a pitch from the Heat — a meeting punctuated by Pat Riley unfurling a small velvet carpet onto the table, followed by the presentation of a small velvet bag. “Oh, yeah, Pat brought his rings out. It looked just like a Crown Royal bag,” Bosh said. “He puts it down, like boom. Big boy talk. When he ended the meeting, Pat gave me a 2006 Heat championship ring.” “Take it. Keep it. Give it back to me when you win one,” Riley said to Bosh. “I still haven’t given it back,” Bosh said. “I wonder if he even remembers that? I think I mentioned it once, like, ‘Yo, do you want that ring back?’ And he said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I kept it moving.”
A generation ago, it was tough to find any Warriors fans outside of the Bay Area, let alone at some desolate outpost in Southeast Europe. But by now, such encounters no longer count as shocking. After five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, with a roster that features some of the game’s most marketable players, and after a concerted effort to raise their profile abroad, the Warriors emerged as a certifiable global brand. According to the team’s internal tracking, the majority of the Warriors’ social media followers reside outside the United States — that’s 80 percent of their followers on Facebook, 70 percent on Instagram, 52 percent on Twitter.
He recalled over the phone last week that in the late ’80s, growing the NBA meant Stern handing a baffled TV executive from Italy a stack of videocassette recordings in hopes the exec would air them when he got back home. “The victories were getting a game that was played 10 days ago aired at a terrible time on Italian television,’’ Welts said. “That’s the kind of thing we considered a victory back then.” Around that time, league officials also attended an international market show in Cannes. “With pretty much a cardboard table and a bunch of business cards,’’ Welts said. “We just tried to grab any television programmer who was there to try to explain to them what the NBA was and why it would be such a great property for their company to air on television.”