Who to believe, Avenatti or Nike?

J.P. Devetori, Staff Writer

On March 25, prominent lawyer Michael Avenatti was arrested in New York City for trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike and threatening to make damaging charges against the company. According to Avenatti, Nike made payments to families of high school basketball players, which is against  NCAA rules.

This illicit activity has the potential to damage the future of the athletes involved and can even result in the loss of scholarships. Schools involved with this act may also face dire consequences, such as having playoff berths and championships vacated by the NCAA.

Any coaches or athletic directors involved could be terminated or suspended. Avenatti was on the verge of holding a press conference to claim that Nike paid both high school and college basketball players and also tweeted that the company paid current NBA and college players like DeAndre Ayton and Bol Bol.

On the afternoon of his arrest, Avenatti and an unnamed co-conspirator (later revealed to be Mark Geragos, Jussie Smollett’s lawyer) met with Nike to discuss Avenatti’s demands to keep his claims quiet. Avenatti was released on a $300,000 bond that evening.

In a separate case in Los Angeles, Avenatti was charged for embezzling money from a client and defrauding a bank in Mississippi. If convicted on both cases, he can face 100 years in prison. So many things are going downhill for Avenatti that I just wonder why he is trying to embezzle millions from Nike. It seems that he is desperate for money because he is coming off a divorce that forced him to pay thousands of dollars in child support and give away personal assets such as his luxury watches, artwork and a Ferrari to his second ex-wife, Lisa Avenatti.  

Avenatti has been on a roller coaster of events this past year. He represented Stormy Daniels in her case against President Trump about their alleged affair in 2006. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence but the charges were later dropped due to false complaints.

He also announced a presidential run for 2020 but later backed down. Avenatti is a conspicuous figure and works hard to represent important and high profile people. At the same time, he has done illegal things out of desperation.

What if Avenatti is right about Nike paying elite high school basketball players? Maybe he wants some compensation from Nike for keeping his mouth shut.

If his claims are accurate, then Nike and the athletes, officials and schools involved will face severe consequences.

There is so much at stake for Avenatti. It is difficult to believe him because I see someone who is desperate for financial gain.