Michael Avenatti’s name has been in the news a lot over the past year and usually, it’s for some pretty suspect reasons. As of right now, Avenatti is being accused of extorting $20 million from Nike, after alleging that executives have been paying high school basketball players to go to Nike schools. One of the schools that are sponsored by Nike is Duke, and Avenatti has made claims that Zion Williamson was one of the players who was allegedly paid to go there.
Avenatti recently made a federal filing which according to Darren Rovell of The Action Network, contains text messages between Nike recruiting coordinator John Stovall as well as EYBL employees Carlton DeBose and Jamal James. The documents allegedly depict James asking DeBose and Stovall about the possibility of taking extreme measures to get certain players to commit to Nike schools. Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford were two of the players mentioned in the messages. It’s also alleged that Stovall told James that Nike would give Williamson $35,000 and Langford $20,000. In the end, Zion went to Duke, while Langford went to Indiana which is sponsored by Adidas.
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It’s important to note that these text messages do not prove any such payments were given out, while the authenticity of these messages still remains to be seen. Nike has been adamant that they have done nothing wrong here and that Avenatti’s claims are false.
“Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case,” a Nike representative explained to Sole Collector.