If you thought that Michael Avenatti was going to let a little thing like getting charged with extortion stop him from the actual extortion, you were wrong.
One day after the former attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels was arrested and charged with a variety of crimes — among them an attempted $20 million extortion scheme targeting Nike — by federal prosecutors in New York and California, Avenatti revealed some of the information that he believed was worth so much money to the company.
In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Avenatti alleged that the families and/or handlers for both DeAndre Ayton, a former Arizona Wildcat and the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, and Bol Bol, a top five prospect in the Class of 2018 that has missed the last three months after injuring his foot while playing for Oregon, had received cash payments from Nike. He specifically named Carlton DeBose, the director of Nike’s EYBL circuit, who replaced Merl Code when he left for Adidas.
He also alleged that Nike has lied about cooperating with the government in the wake of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball.
Sources confirmed to NBC Sports yesterday that the client feeding Avenatti information is Gary Franklin, formerly of California Supreme, the program that both Ayton and Bol, along with a number of other well-known recruits like Shareef O’Neal, Aaron Holiday and Brandon McCoy, played for. The program was recently cut by Nike.
On Wednesday, Avenatti released another tweet, this time claiming evidence that Nike gave $10,000 to Deandre Ayton’s mother through a cash delivery from Franklin. Avenatti claimed the documents, among others, were now in the hands of prosecutors as he alleges they are receipts for Nike funneling money to top prospects.
Avenatti, according to the SDNY indictment, threatened Nike that he and his client would expose this information during the NCAA tournament, an effort to maximize publicity and the financial damage that it would cause Nike’s stock. He was recorded telling Nike’s lawyers that he would “take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap.” Avenatti claimed that the scheme to pay the players was similar to the one that caused a number of Adidas executives as well as a former runner for an NBA agent, Christian Dawkins, to get sentenced to prison earlier this year.