Zion Williamson escalates $100 million legal battle with fraud allegations against marketing firm

Jack Baer

Zion Williamson’s legal team added even more bad blood to the legal battle between the New Orleans Pelicans star rookie and a marketing firm he had previously signed with, according to NOLA.com.

In addition to claiming the firm, Gina Ford’s Prime Sports LLC, wasn’t properly certified, Williamson’s lawyers are now claiming the firm pursued him when he was still starring at Duke and misrepresented their work experience during negotiations.

Why a marketing firm is suing Zion for $100M

Both Williamson and the firm have filed lawsuits against each other in the months since the player opted to sign with mega-agency CAA Sports. Williamson filed a suit to void the original deal he agreed to, while Prime Sports sued the player for $100 million for breaking his contract.

Williamson originally signed the deal days after declaring for the NBA draft. 41 days later, he signed with CAA and Prime Sports was sent an email that its partnership with him had been cancelled.

Williamson’s argument that the deal should be voided was originally based on two things. First was that Prime Sports is not certified by the NBA Players Association or considered a registered agent in either North Carolina or Florida.

Second, the contract reportedly failed to include a line in bold, capital letters clearly stating Williamson would lose his college eligibility if he signed. as required by North Carolina's Uniform Athlete Agents Act.

The $100 million stakes of the deal are obviously enormous, and Williamson’s team took things a step forward with a reported new filing on Wednesday.

Zion: Firm lied about credentials, NCAA eligibility

Per NOLA.com, Williamson’s lawyers claimed in federal court that Ford, the owner of the firm, began pursuing Williamson as soon as January, repeatedly texted Williamson’s relatives and went so far as to approach them before and after games at Cameron Indoor Stadium despite being told not to do so.

Ford’s pursuit was reportedly described as “predatory” in the filing, with claims that she “grossly exaggerated” her previous work with athletes while pitching Williamson on her company.

We're just guessing, but Zion Williamson would probably prefer not to lose a $100 million lawsuit. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

Among the alleged claims were that Ford said she had been the primary marketing agent for “a number of other first- and second-round NBA draft picks” and was the “lead global brand marketer" for Usain Bolt. Williamson’s suit now contends those claims were wildly inflated.

All of that resulted in Williamson’s team claiming Ford’s alleged exaggerations should void Williamson’s deal, with the contention being Williamson would not have signed the deal had he known Williamson’s true work history. North Carolina's Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits “unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce.”

Additionally, Williamson’s attorneys reportedly claimed that Ford violated the Uniform Athlete Agents Act not just by failing to include the NCAA eligibility notification in Williamson’s contract and lacking agent certification, but also by flatly and inaccurately telling him “no” when asked if the contract would impact his NCAA eligibility.

Clearly, the team of attorneys is trying to poke as many holes as they can in Williamson’s agreement. We’ll see if that adds up to a voided contract or a significant legal bill for the No. 1 overall pick.

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