The New York Knicks said in a court filing on Monday that they are seeking over $10 million in damages in their lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors.
Last month, the Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Raptors and several members of their organization, including former Knicks employee Ikechukwu Azotam. The suit alleges that Azotam illegally took thousands of confidential files from the Knicks and disclosed the files to members of the Raptors, including Raptors' new head coach Darko Rajakovic and other members of the coaching staff, according to Ian Begley of SNY.
“We were the victim of a theft of proprietary and confidential files, which is a clear violation of criminal and civil law, and we remain confident that the Court will decide in our favor in this matter,” an MSG Sports spokesperson said in a statement to ESPN.
Rajakovic has denied any wrongdoing. The Raptors want NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to arbitrate the case. The Knicks argue that Silver shouldn’t arbitrate the case because of his close relationship with Raptors minority owner Larry Tanenbaum. New York also argues that Tanenbaum’s position as chairman of the NBA’s board of governors would be a conflict of interest since Tanenbaum serves as Silver’s boss.
"Among other things, Tanenbaum has been described as 'a close ally of Commissioner Adam Silver,'" the Knicks wrote. "Silver himself described Tanenbaum as 'not just my boss as the chairman of the board of governors, but he's very much a role model in my life.' If Silver were to preside over the instant dispute, he would be arbitrating a case for his boss and ally."
The Knicks also said that no provisions in the NBA constitution address intellectual property, and thus, Silver can’t arbitrate the case.
The files that Azotam disclosed to the Raptors included a play frequency report, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files, opposition research, and other confidential information. The Knicks also accuse Azotam of violating a confidentiality clause in an employment agreement and allege that the Raptors knowingly benefited from Azotam’s alleged illegal acts.
The Raptors must respond to the Knicks' latest filing by early December. While we have seen sign-stealing scandals in the NFL and college football, this is a first for the NBA. I’m surprised that the teams involved are the Knicks and Raptors. I would have thought it would have been teams with big stars.
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