Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti is continuing his attack on Nike. Following the Duke basketball program’s exit from the 2019 NCAA Tournament, Avenatti dragged Blue Devils star Zion Williamson and his family into the bribery claims he has been airing out on social media.
According to Avenatti, who has been charged with attempting to extort Nike for more than $150,000, the company paid Williamson’s mother in order to steer the potential No. 1 NBA draft pick towards attending Duke.
Avenatti shared the claims on Twitter.
.@DukeMBB – About this denial by Coach K the other day relating to payments by Nike…Can you please ask Zion Williamson’s mother – Sharonda Sampson – whether she was paid by @nike for bogus “consulting services” in 2016/17 as part of a Nike bribe to get Zion to go to Duke? Thx.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 6, 2019
“I almost forgot – long day – @DukeMBB can you also have your close friends at @Nike check their Nike Vendor Portal for payments to “Sharonda Sampson Consulting”. Just search 2016 to the present. Appreciate it,” he continued.
“Was it fair for some colleges to lose out on recruits because Nike had bribed the recruits with illegal payments so they would play at other “Nike” schools? Was it fair for Nike to take advantage of the players and their families by paying the bribes and then demanding loyalty?”
He then directed his attack at Nike executive Carlton DeBose, while claiming that DeBose bribed over 100 high school players to play for Nike affiliated schools.
Avenatti also says Nike’s “most senior execs” knew about the bribes.
Carlton DeBose, a Nike executive, has bribed over 100 high school players over the last 4 years to play college basketball at colleges affiliated with Nike as opposed to other schools. He has used bogus invoices and countless coaches to further the scheme & deliver the money,” Avenatti wrote. “Nike’s most senior execs knew about it and looked the other way, as did many of the colleges. Nike also undertook large efforts to hide it from the NCAA & federal investigators. Some colleges lost out on some of the best high school recruits because of Nike’s bribes
“If I am lying, @nike should issue a stmt immediately stating no such payments were ever made and calling me out. They won’t because they know it is 100% true and they covered-up for years.”
Nike responded to the claims with a statement to Yahoo! Sports:
“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,” the company said in the statement. “Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”
As we have previously stated, this is only getting started and it’s going to keep getting uglier if Avenatti attempts to keep airing out alleged dirty laundry in the public eye.