We are now starting to get a vivid picture of the inner workings of what Nike has been accused of doing over the years that involve high school basketball players, including Zion Williamson.
Text messages and emails from Nike executives entered in federal court on Friday that detail plans to pay money to then-high school stars such as Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford, and alleged payments to the people around eventual No. 1 pick Deandre Ayton.
Controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti produced the exhibits on Friday. He found himself arrested on federal extortion charges earlier this year, accused of trying to “shake down” Nike by demanding they hire him to run an internal investigation of the EYBL or he would reveal incriminating details of the payouts.
“The exhibits, which were filed in federal court, are brazenly honest, often authored by Nike’s own employees via corporate email and corporate cell phone texts. There are discussions of payments through a network of EYBL coaches, an apparent bill for $65,840 in handouts to people affiliated with Ayton, and a declaration from one Nike exec that the competition to land elite players is “war.”
The documents continue to show how commonly top high school players are paid to play for specific shoe companies, despite potential violations of NCAA amateurism rules. It also again calls into question why a sweeping federal investigation and two subsequent trials focused almost exclusively on Adidas, resulting in the convictions of an executive and a consultant and the cooperation of an AAU coach.”
Carlton DeBose, the director of the Elite Youth Basketball League, made it clear that he was willing to spend top dollar.
“In one group text, James wrote to DeBose seeking to find out if they would be “willing to do … whatever may be needed for the Zion/Romeo situations as well as the money we’re now going to do for the [minor] kid in Michigan.”
DeBose then wrote he was willing to spend “70” in an effort “to cripple adidas” and that everyone should “stay aggressive and I will figure out the money part.”
Nike released a statement earlier this week on the allegations: