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#pounditSaturday, August 15, 2020

Zion Williamson’s former agent says star took illegal benefits from Duke, Nike

Zion Williamson

Zion Williamson has been wrapped up in a legal battle since last year with a marketing agency that used to represent him, and the latest filings are sure to call more attention to the case.

Miami-based company Prime Sports Marketing filed a lawsuit against Williamson last year alleging that the New Orleans Pelicans star backed out of an exclusive marketing agreement that he signed days after he declared for the NBA Draft. The firm is seeking at least $100 million in damages.

As Daniel Wallach of The Athletic pointed out on Sunday, Williamson’s former agent Gina Ford recently served requests for admission in the lawsuit asking Williamson to admit that he and his representatives received “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to attend Duke University and wear Nike’s brand. Williamson is also accused of receiving improper benefits from Adidas prior to enrolling at Duke.

Wallach speculates that the requests are likely more of a “veiled threat” aimed at getting Williamson and his current marketing agency, CAA Sports, to settle the lawsuit. Though, there will now be pressure on the NCAA to pursue the claims.

This is not the first we have heard about improper activity between Nike and Williamson. Michael Avenatti, the former Stormy Daniels attorney who was arrested last year and charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to extort Nike, also claimed Nike approved thousands of dollars in payments to help steer Williamson to Duke.

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