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#pounditThursday, June 30, 2022

Articles tagged: Nike

Michael Avenatti alleges Nike approved payments for Zion Williamson

basketball

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.

Report: Zion Williamson made millions more from Nike due to shoe malfunction

Zion Williamson shoe

A malfunction with a pair of sneakers made by Nike may have cost Zion Williamson some time during the college basketball season earlier this year, but it sounds like it actually turned out to be a good thing for the former Duke star.

Williamson announced on Tuesday that he has signed an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, which is of course owned by Nike. While the terms of the deal were not initially known, Darren Rovell of The Action Network reports that Williamson blowing out his shoe on national TV “made the stakes of landing Zion that much greater.” Rovell estimates that Williamson made millions more on his endorsement deal because the embarrassing sneaker malfunction made Nike that much more desperate to sign him.

Williamson suffered what initially looked like a serious injury in Duke’s game against rival North Carolina back in March when his shoe literally fell apart during play. It was a public relations nightmare for Nike, which sponsors Duke and produces their athletic gear.

As many as seven shoe companies expressed interest in signing Williamson before he was drafted No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans, and some wondered if the blown out shoe would impact his decision. He fueled that buzz when he was spotted wearing a different brand a few months back, but in the end it sounds like the deal worked out for everyone.

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.

Report: Nike stood to lose ‘tens of millions’ on LeBron James jersey change

LeBron James

LeBron James will not be switching jersey numbers in the upcoming season as previously planned due to a lack of approval from Nike, according to reports.

James has worn jersey No. 23 in all his NBA seasons but his four-year stint with the Miami Heat, when he wore No. 6. No. 23 is what Anthony Davis has worn throughout his career. To welcome his new teammate to the Los Angeles Lakers, James was going to give Davis No. 23 and likely switch back to No. 6.

However, Yahoo’s Chris B. Haynes reported on Friday that the jersey switch will not be happening. Haynes reported that the request came in after the March 15 deadline. The league would have allowed the switch if manufacturer Nike approved it, but they did not, citing a major financial loss they would have incurred.

According to ESPN, Nike stood to lose “well into the tens of millions of dollars” on the switch due to already-produced LeBron James No. 23 Lakers jerseys.

A player has the ability to buy out the jerseys as we’ve seen one do in the past, but James opted to keep his number out of respect to the fans who have already purchased his Lakers jersey and to avoid further controversy, Haynes reported.

Now we will wait to see what jersey number Davis picks.

Nike to add pregnancy protection for female athletes

Nike logo swoosh

Nike is adding contractual protection for female athletes who get pregnant after facing negative publicity for not doing so in the past.

On Sunday, The New York Times ran an opinion piece from Lindsay Crouse and video by 33-year-old distance runner Alysia Montaño that pointed out the lack of fairness and support from sponsors towards female athletes who get pregnant. Montaño says when she told Nike she was pregnant, they told her they were going to pause her contract. Crouse pointed out the hypocrisy from Nike, which has created advertising campaigns in which they claim to support and empower female athletes, encouraging them to dream big.

Nike apparently took note of the criticism and has enacted a change.

The Wall Street Journal’s Khadeeja Safdar reported on Friday that Nike has now added language to their contracts that will protect female athletes’ pay during pregnancy.

“We recognize we can do more and that there is an important opportunity for the sports industry to evolve to support female athletes,” the company said.

Nike says they adopted the policy last year but just started writing them into their contracts. Their previous contracts allowed them to pause contracts or reduce pay “for any reason.”

Previously, athletes were not able to speak about these issues due to non-disclosure agreements or fears of retribution. Nike goes to great distances to protect the brand and its athletes for fear of negative publicity, so their quick action and response is not surprising.

Michael Avenatti accuses Nike of paying Zion Williamson’s mom Sharonda Sampson

Zion Williamson

Michael Avenatti has kicked his Nike accusations into high gear.

Avenatti, an attorney known for representing Stormy Daniels in her case against Donald Trump, is being accused of attempting to extort Nike. He allegedly threatened to go public with accusations against Nike if they did not pay him.

Avenatti has decided to go public in the last 24 hours with his accusations anyway.

On Friday night, Avenatti accused Nike exec Carlton DeBose of bribing high schoolers so that they would attend Nike-sponsored colleges. He later accused Nike of making payments to Zion Williamson’s mother Sharonda Sampson for bogus “consulting services”, which he says were bribes.

Williamson ended up choosing to attend Duke for college. The Blue Devils have been sponsored by Nike since 1992, and Coach K has extremely strong ties to the brand. He has previously denied any wrongdoing in a scandal involving improper payments that has rocked the college basketball world.

Duke says they are aware of the allegations and are investigating matters.

“We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it. Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations,” Duke AD Kevin White wrote in a statement to The Chronicle. “Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility. With regard to men’s basketball: all recruits and their families are thoroughly vetted by Duke in collaboration with the NCAA through the Eligibility Center’s amateurism certification process.”

Nike says they will not respond to Avenatti’s claims.

“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the tournament. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case,” the apparel company said in a statement via Dan Wetzel.

Avenatti continues to assert that Nike is guilty.

“Nike is guilty of rampant criminal conduct in bribing players for years and has been striving for weeks now to distract away from their bribery and fraud perpetrated at the highest levels. They knew they could not keep it secret any longer so they lied to the government and enlisted them in their scheme. If I’m lying about what Nike has done, why don’t they deny the bribery? They are guilty as hell.”

In case you are unfamiliar with how these bribery schemes work, sneaker companies have a lot to gain in sales through brand exposure. They sponsor college programs as part of their marketing, and being linked to star athletes and winning programs helps their brand and sales. Some companies believe that if they can bribe top high school athletes to play for college programs they sponsor, they will have a lot to gain. They also are attempting to build relationships with these athletes in case they become stars in the pros. A star player like Zion is extremely attractive to these companies; fans will want to buy Williamson’s gear, which is why so many companies are competing to sign him as he enters the NBA.

Nike issues statement on Zion Williamson’s shoe breaking

Zion Williamson shoe

One of the worst public relations nightmares in Nike’s history occurred during Wednesday night’s game between Duke and North Carolina, and the sports apparel juggernaut is working hard to remedy the situation.

Just over 30 seconds into the game, freshman superstar Zion Williamson was forced to exit with a knee injury after his shoe literally fell apart. Williamson is the best player in the country and is expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, so the equipment malfunction could not have happened in a worse situation.

After UNC’s 88-72 win over the Blue Devils, Nike issued a statement about the broken shoe. A spokesperson wished Williamson a speedy recovery and said the manufacturer is working to identify the cause of the “isolated incident.”

Isolated or not, the situation is a horrible look for Nike. Williamson is fortunate to have only suffered a knee sprain, though it is unclear how much time he will miss. The freshman has already been urged by some former NBA players to sit out to protect himself from injury, but no one envisioned his footwear being the issue.

As you might expect, Nike was ruthlessly mocked by the competition over the debacle.

Puma deletes tweet after taking shot at Nike over Zion Williamson injury

Puma logo

Puma sent a tweet disparaging Nike after Zion Williamson suffered an injury while wearing their shoes, but they thought better of it.

Puma has ventured into the basketball market, signing players such as Deandre Ayton, DeMarcus Cousins and Marvin Bagley to try and take some market share away from Nike, the leader in the field. After Williamson’s Nike shoes blew out in the first minute of the Duke-North Carolina game on Wednesday, Puma took a shot at Nike, saying the issue wouldn’t have happened if he were wearing Pumas.

Puma later deleted the tweet, possibly after learning that Williamson was out for the game with a knee injury.

Before Puma sent the tweet, Terry Rozier, another Puma athlete, had made his recruiting pitch.

This type of tweet probably won’t earn Puma many more fans. Separately, they could benefit as the malfunction of the Nike shoes could lead some to question wearing the brand.

Competition pounces on Nike after Zion Williamson’s shoe breaks

Zion Williamson shoe

Nike’s worst nightmare occurred on Wednesday night.

In the first minute of the high-profile Duke-North Carolina game, Blue Devils star Zion Williamson exited with an injury after his shoe broke. Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5 PE, and the shoe literally fell apart, resulting in a knee injury.

This is the biggest stage in college basketball and the biggest star in the sport, and to have the equipment fall apart and cause an injury could not have been a worse turn of events for the Swoosh. Instantly, people pounced.

Boston Celtics guard Terry Rozier said Williamson/Duke should join Puma, a new brand in the basketball shoe market.

Puma joined in as well before later deleting their tweet.

Others on social media instantly knew what the injury and shoe failure meant for Nike and its competitors.

We’re not about to say Nike’s stock price is going to fall on Thursday, but this really couldn’t be worse for them.

Williamson was soon ruled out for the rest of the game due to his knee, raising questions about his future at Duke, and whether he might actually follow Scottie Pippen’s advice.

Colorado store slashes prices on Nike gear in protest of Colin Kaepernick campaign

Colin Kaepernick

As the backlash from Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick continues, one company in Colorado is so disgusted it is offering customers a rare opportunity to purchase discount apparel.

As KRDO NewsChannel 13 noted discovered, a sporting goods store called Prime Time Sports in Colorado Springs has hung a sign in its front window announcing that all Nike products are now 50 percent off. The sign reads “Still choosing to stand.”

Stephen Martin, who has owned Prime Time Sports for 21 years, says he understands how much profit he could lose because of the large inventory of Nike NFL jerseys the store sells. That didn’t stop him from sending a letter to Nike expressing frustration over the Kaepernick campaign and calling the sports apparel juggernaut the “mother of all harlots.”

“According to me, (Kaepernick) has sacrificed a salary,” a note in the window of Prime Time Sports reads. “Nothing compared to what every soul on our ‘Honor the Flag’ memorial wall that was built a few years ago has suffered and died for.”

The note, which was written by Martin, is surrounded by photos of fallen service members. Martin started the sale Tuesday and said he intends to permanently rid the store of all Nike products.

Nike knew having Kaepernick as the face of a campaign would draw strong reactions, though some numbers indicate the decision was a good one. Martin’s opinion is shared by many, but it doesn’t appear to be discouraging Nike at all.