Knicks File Lawsuit Against Raptors and Former Employee

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On Monday, the New York Knicks filed a lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors, certain members of their organization, and a former Knicks employee.

The lawsuit claims that the ex-employee, Ikechukwu Azotam, who worked for the Knicks from 2020 to 2023, shared confidential files with the Raptors, including play reports, a 2022-23 season prep book, scouting videos, and more.

The Knicks allege that this occurred after Azotam was approached by the Raptors for potential employment in the summer of 2023.

The Knicks assert that Azotam violated a confidentiality agreement from his employment contract and that the Raptors either directed or benefited from his actions.

The lawsuit also accuses the Raptors of conspiring to use Azotam’s insider position to acquire proprietary information that would aid in restructuring their coaching and video operations staff.

The Knicks have named Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis, and 10 other unspecified Raptors employees as defendants in the lawsuit.

The Knicks expressed their decision to take legal action due to what they see as a clear violation of their employment agreement and both criminal and civil law.

“MLSE and the Toronto Raptors received a letter from [Madison Square Garden] on Thursday of last week bringing this complaint to our attention,” the statement reads.

“MLSE responded promptly, making clear our intention to conduct an internal investigation and to fully cooperate. MLSE has not been advised that a lawsuit was being filed or has been filed following its correspondence with MSG. The company strongly denies any involvement in the matters alleged. MLSE and the Toronto Raptors will reserve further comment until this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”

Attempts to reach Azotam via phone and text were unanswered, and an NBA representative did not promptly respond to comment requests. As per federal law, the defendants have 21 days to reply to the lawsuit.

In July 2023, Azotam notified the Knicks about an offer from the Raptors, intending to accept it the next year. The Knicks claimed that during this period, Azotam covertly shared proprietary data from his Knicks email to his personal Gmail, which was then shared with the Raptors Defendants, as per the lawsuit.

Additionally, the Knicks alleged that Azotam was instructed by Raptors members to misuse his Knicks’ Synergy Sports subscription, transferring more than 3,000 files to the Raptors Defendants.

The Knicks discovered this on August 15, 2023, a day after Azotam’s Knicks employment ended. The Knicks accused Azotam of sharing 3,358 video files and stated that the Raptors Defendants accessed these stolen files over 2,000 times.

Among their requests, the Knicks are seeking unspecified damages, a halt to Raptors’ use of Knicks’ confidential info, and no benefit to Azotam due to his wrongful actions.

Initial coverage of the lawsuit was by SportsNet New York.

 

 

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