In today’s edition of “Well, that escalated quickly,” we have Zion Williamson, who went from sitting around his house twiddling his thumbs as he waits for the NBA season to resume to being accused of receiving improper benefits as a collegiate athlete.
How in the hell did we get here? ESPN has the scoop:
Attorneys representing Zion Williamson’s former marketing representative and her company have asked the New Orleans Pelicans star to admit that his mother and stepfather demanded and received gifts, money and other benefits from persons acting on behalf of Adidas and Nike and also from people associated with Duke to influence him to sign with the Blue Devils and to wear Nike or Adidas products.
“Zion Williamson’s former marketing representative” would be agent Gina Ford, who clearly had time on Sunday to clapback after Williamson filed a lawsuit against Ford’s Prime Sports Marketing in June in an attempt to terminate his contract with her company. So with Williamson’s attorneys claiming that his agreement with Ford was in violation of North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because a) Prime Sports isn’t certified by the NBA Players Association and b) Ford isn’t a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida, instead of allowing her multi-million dollar cash cow to move on to greener pastures, Ford pulled the pin out the grenade and threw it out the car window while blasting 2Pac’s “Hit ‘Em Up.”
Ford and Prime Sports Marketing are also seeking $100 million in punitive damages in a countersuit levied against Williamson, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and two of its employees. But things get interesting once you see what exactly it is that Ford wants Williamson to cop to:
- Sharonda Sampson, Williamson’s mother, and Lee Anderson, his stepfather, “demanded and received gifts and economic benefits from persons acting on behalf of Duke University (directly and/or indirectly) to influence [Williamson] to attend Duke University to play basketball.”
- Sampson and Anderson “demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons on behalf of Nike (directly and/or indirectly) to influence [Williamson] to attend Duke University to play basketball.”
- Sampson and Anderson “demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons acting on behalf of Adidas (directly and/or indirectly) to influence [Williamson] to wear Adidas shoes” and to “influence [Williamson] to attend a college that endorsed Adidas shoes.”
- Before becoming a student at Duke, Williamson “or person(s) acting on [his] behalf (including but not limited to Sharonda Sampson and Lee Anderson) accepted benefits from an NCAA-certified agent that are not expressly permitted by the NCAA legislation” between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 14, 2019.
Considering there have also been additional allegations that Nike paid Williamson’s mother for consultation services while he was a 5-star high school recruit and that there are “text messages, e-mails and other documents” in which Nike allegedly offered Williamson $35,000, it sounds like shit is about to get super ugly.
This could all be avoided if the NCAA would just end the charade and pay these players outright instead of pretending like they aren’t already, but I’ll keep my popcorn ready to see how this all plays out. I mean, shit. It ain’t like there are any NBA games to watch instead.