Heat center Hassan Whiteside became the first player in NBA history to go from a minimum salary one season to a max salary the next.
Some of that money allegedly got embezzled by Michael Avenatti.
Avenatti – the infamous lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels, who claimed she was paid to keep quiet about having an affair with Donald Trump – has been charged with attempted extortion of Nike and stealing from other clients. One of those other clients: Whiteside’s former girlfriend, Alexis Gardner.
An actress and barista, she’d hired him just a few weeks before to negotiate a settlement of a potential lawsuit against Whiteside. It’s unclear what she would have alleged. Avenatti quickly struck a $3-million deal, and the $2.75 million was Whiteside’s first payment.
Avenatti, prosecutors say, was entitled to take just over $1 million in legal fees, leaving the rest for Gardner.
Instead, they allege, Avenatti hid Whiteside’s payment from her and immediately took $2.5 million to buy a share of a private jet.