Zion Williamson’s attorneys fired back at his former marketing agent’s claims that his stepfather received improper payments before Williamson’s Duke career began, calling the claims “procedurally improper, legally irrelevant and patently false.”
The arguments were made in court documents filed Friday in a Greensboro, N.C., federal court that were obtained by the News & Observer.
Friday’s filing is the latest turn in the legal dispute between Williamson, the 2019 ACC player of the year who was the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick that same year, and his one-time marketing agent. Williamson signed a contract with agent Gina Ford and Miami-based Prime Sports Marketing in April 2019, weeks after his freshman season at Duke ended.
In court documents filed earlier this month as part of the case, Ford claimed another agent provided Williamson’s family with a $400,000 payment in October 2018.
Jeffrey Klein, one of Williamson’s attorneys, said that accusation was untrue in a statement to the News & Observer earlier this month.
In Friday’s court filing, Klein and Williamson’s legal team asked the court to disregard the claims.
“The public docket of this federal court is no place for false and legally irrelevant allegations aimed at sullying the character of Mr. Williamson and his family,” the filing said.
After initially signing with Ford’s agency in April 2019, Williamson signed a May 2019 contract with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to handle both his marketing and NBA contract negotiations. Ford claimed Williamson owed her $100 million for breaking their contract.
Williamson sued her in federal court in June 2019, claiming the contract he signed with her was void because she had violated North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete-Agent laws in several ways. Most notably, Williamson’s lawyers argued, Ford wasn’t registered to work as an agent in the state.
Ford countersued at the state court level in Florida, saying those laws didn’t apply to Williamson because he never should have been declared eligible to play at Duke due to numerous NCAA violations committed during his recruitment to Duke. At the time, Ford offered no evidence of such violations.
That changed last May when Ford filed paperwork in a Miami court insisting Williamson answer a series of questions, under oath, that pertain to his NCAA eligibility.
Williamson’s lawyers argued such allegations were baseless. In June, a Florida appeals court ruled Williamson didn’t have to answer those questions while his case against Ford proceeds through the federal court system in North Carolina.
Ford’s lawyers responded with a federal court filing earlier this month in Greensboro that included an affidavit from a California man who testified he had knowledge of a $400,000 payment a third marketing agent made to Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, prior to Williamson playing his first regular-season game with the Blue Devils in November 2018.
Klein responded by calling the documents presented with the affidavit “fraudulent” and added that “neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them. “
The marketing agent alleged to have made the payment to Anderson subsequently told Sports Illustrated he had been “conned” and had not made any payments to Williamson or his family. Among the documents filed with the affidavit was a copy purported to be of Zion Williamson’s South Carolina driver’s license. That copy had numerous errors, including listing an inaccurate hometown for Williamson as well as transposing his height and weight.