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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Legal Matters

Michael Avenatti alleges Nike approved payments for Zion Williamson


Attorney Michael Avenatti is once again accusing Nike executives of improper conduct, including approving illegal payments to Zion Williamson and other players.

Avenatti was arrested on March 25 and charged by federal prosecutors for attempting to extort Nike. Avenatti allegedly was threatening to hold a press conference in which he would unveil improper activities between Nike and high school/college programs unless they paid him $25 million.

Avenatti hired legal representation for the extortion case and is seeking to have the charges dismissed on grounds of vindictive and selective prosecution. His attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court in New York on Wednesday that included numerous allegations, according to ESPN’s Mark Schlabach.

According to the motion, Avenatti has evidence Nike executives approved cash payments to be made to handlers and family members of amateur players. The payments are often made in an effort to steer an amateur player to a college program sponsored by the shoe company. Adidas was at the center of a college basketball scandal over the past two years for this issue. Avenatti says Nike has engaged in similar practices.

Avenatti claims to have evidence showing a Nike employee was willing to make a $35,000 payment to Zion Williamson, $20,000 for Romeo Langford, and $15,000 for another player. Williamson played his freshman season at Duke, which is a Nike-sponsored school, while Langford went to Indiana, an Adidas school.

Avenatti claims to have gained the evidence and information through former amateur coach Gary Franklin. Franklin coached the California Supreme, a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) team. Franklin alleges Nike tried to funnel payments through him intended for the handlers and/or family of several players on his teams, such as Deandre Ayton. Franklin retained Avenatti’s services after claiming to have been forced out by Nike once he no longer felt comfortable going along with their scheme.

In April, Avenatti also accused Nike of making payments to the mother of Williamson, who ended up going No. 1 overall in the NBA Draft.

Nike files countersuit against Kawhi Leonard over Klaw logo

Kawhi Leonard

The legal battle between Kawhi Leonard and Nike over the reigning NBA Finals MVP’s logo continues.

Leonard filed a lawsuit against Nike in June in which he claimed Nike copyrighted his Klaw logo without his consent. On Wednesday, Nike filed a countersuit in Southern California in which they stated their designers created the logo based on a concept provided by Leonard. They even provided a photo of the rough draft of Leonard’s logo compared to their design.

Nike is seeking a judgement that would declare them the owner of the logo, an injunction preventing Leonard from using the logo, plus damages and attorney fees.

In its suit, Nike even cited comments from Leonard in a Nice Kicks article that originally was published on Oct. 29, 2014.

“I give the Jordan Brand team all the credit because I’m no artist at all,” said Leonard. “They refined it and made it look better than I thought it would ever be, and I’m extremely happy with the final version.”

Leonard endorsed Nike from 2011-2018 and signed a contract acknowledging Nike as the copyright owner of the logo. Leonard left Nike and signed with New Balance in November. He would like to be able to use the logo with his new company.

Nike is seeking to have the case moved to Oregon, which is where the company is headquartered.

Police open investigation into Ezekiel Elliott’s security guard altercation

Ezekiel Elliott

The security guard who was allegedly assaulted by Ezekiel Elliott at a concert in Las Vegas back in May is pressing charges, and police have opened an investigation into the incident.

A representative for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police told TMZ that Kyle Johnson contacted the department informing them he was the victim of battery from Elliott. The incident is currently under investigation.

Johnson, 19, was knocked to the ground during a dispute at the Electric Daisy Carnival on May 19. Video footage appeared to show Elliott making contact with Johnson and causing him to fall into a metal barrier. Elliott was detained but not arrested after Johnson initially said he did not want to press charges. Johnson later said he only wanted an apology from the star running back.

Elliott did issue an apology on social media after a disciplinary hearing with Roger Goodell earlier this month, but apparently that was not good enough. Elliott’s legal team claims Johnson is trying to extort the Dallas Cowboys star.

Ex-NFL player Carlos Rogers is not the person suing Rodney Peete

Rodney Peete is being sued by a man named Carlos Rogers, but it’s not the former NFL player who’s suing him.

TMZ Sports reported on Friday that Peete, a former longtime NFL quarterback and All-American at USC, was being sued by Carlos Rogers for $350,000, plus $100,000 in damages. Rogers alleges in the suit that Peete approached him to invest in a group aimed at keeping the Raiders in Northern California. Back in 2016, we shared that Peete was part of a group including Ronnie Lott working to keep the Raiders in Oakland. Peete allegedly promised Rogers as part of the deal that he would get his money back if the team moved to Las Vegas, which they are doing. Rogers is suing on grounds on fraud, saying he has never been paid back by Peete, though terms of their agreement call for that.

While the information in the lawsuit is accurate, TMZ got their Carlos Rogers wrong. The Rogers who played at Auburn and was drafted No. 9 overall by Washington in 2005 told NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair that he’s not suing anybody, never invested in anything related to the Raiders’ stadium, and doesn’t know who Peete is.

Instead, a different man named Carlos Rogers says he’s the one who’s suing Peete.

This Rogers claims on his website to have made millions in marketing and bills himself as a “Successful Real Estate & Business Investor.”

So to recap: Rodney Peete is being sued by a man named Carlos Rogers over a Raiders-related investment, but it’s not by the former Pro Bowl cornerback.

Drew Brees awarded $6.1 million in damages for lawsuit against jeweler

Drew Brees

Drew Brees was awarded $6.1 million in damages by a San Diego Superior Court on Friday for his lawsuit against a jeweler.

Brees and his wife filed a suit against La Jolla jeweler Vahid Moradi last year in which they claimed they were sold investment diamonds by Moradi and his company, CJ Charles Jewelers, from 2012-2016. Brees alleged in his suit that Moradi misrepresented the value of the diamonds, with a separate appraiser valuing them at $6.7 million less than what the Breeses paid.

In one example, a diamond Brees paid $8.1 million for was appraised at $3.7 million. The total amount the Breeses paid Moradi was $15 million.

The jeweler’s attorney claimed that the appraiser was actually a competitor who tried to sell jewelry to the Breeses. The defense claimed the diamonds were purchased as a gift for Brees’ wife, not investment purposes. The defense also claimed any differences in prices were due to standard markups by businesses to cover expenses, according to CBS 8 in San Diego.

When Brees sued last year, he was seeking at least $9 million in damages.

The 40-year-old quarterback was drafted by the Chargers in 2001 and played there through the 2005 season before signing with the Saints. He has played for New Orleans ever since, winning a Super Bowl and making 12 Pro Bowls.

Kellen Winslow found guilty of raping homeless woman

Kellen Winslow II is facing multiple felony charges, some of which relate to the alleged rape of multiple women. On Monday, he was found guilty of raping one woman.

Winslow was found guilty of raping a 58-year-old homeless woman in 2018. He was also found guilty of indecent exposure for exposing himself to a 58-year-old woman who was gardening in her front hard and lewd conduct related to an incident where he made sexual advances toward a 78-year-old woman in a health club.

The San Diego County jury remains deadlocked on six other felonies and two misdemeanors.

Winslow had rape and kidnapping charges filed against him last year. He was released on $2 million bail and placed on house arrest last June after being arrested on suspicion of raping two women in their 50s in the San Diego area. Prosecutors later said they believe Winslow is guilty of raping a third woman, described as a 17-year-old female who was unconscious at the time Winslow allegedly sexually assaulted her.

After he was surprisingly granted bail, Winslow was accused of sexually harassing a woman multiples times at a health club.

Winslow, the son of Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, was drafted No. 6 overall by the Cleveland Browns in 2004. He played nine seasons in the NFL.

Kawhi Leonard files lawsuit against Nike over logo copyright

Kawhi Leonard wants his logo back.

The Toronto Raptors forward filed a federal lawsuit against Nike on Monday, claiming that the design of his “Klaw” logo was his and Nike copyrighted it without his permission.

Leonard essentially appears to want full control over his personal logo. Nike owns part of the copyright on it, as it was created when the forward was still signed to Jordan Brand. Leonard opted against renewing that contract and joined New Balance last November, but Nike kept the rights to his logo.

Leonard’s logo is so important to him that one potential suitor tried to buy the rights to give to him if he signed there. It seems there will be no need for that now, with the Raptors star opting to settle the matter in court.