Toronto Raptors’ parent company Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment responded to the lawsuit it is facing from the New York Knicks.
According to SNY’s Ian Begley, MLSE called the lawsuit “baseless” and “a public relations stunt by the Knicks.” They asked the judge to dismiss the suit.
“As the Knicks surely expected and presumably intended, the filing of this lawsuit — virtually unprecedented between two members of the NBA or, frankly, two teams in any North American professional sports league — generated significant publicity,” MLSE wrote in its motion, per The Athletic. “The effect of such a public accusation of wrongdoing in federal court was to tarnish the stellar reputations of Messrs. [Darko] Rajaković, [Noah] Lewis, and [Ike] Azotam, as well as MLSE, and to chill present and future Knicks’ employees from their pursuit of employment with other members.”
The suit claimed that Azotam took trade secrets with him to Toronto. That he had been cultivated by Rajakovic and used as a mole. MLSE called the latter accusation “false and overblown.” They said more than 3,300 video clips were not confidential and accessible to anyone in the NBA.
Reactions to the lawsuit
Rajakovic spoke about the lawsuit during Raptors’ Media Day and said he was “shocked.”
Raptors president Masai Ujiri also weighed in on the lawsuit at Media Day:
“I think there has been one time in the history of the NBA that a team has sued another team. Go figure.”
“The fact that the Knicks elected to commence their action in this forum … can only be explained by a concern that pursuit of their claims in the proper forum would receive no public attention and would be denied by the NBA Commissioner,” the motion to dismiss said according to the Athletic. “The Knicks’ conduct from the outset of this dispute leaves no doubt that their goal has been to elicit negative press attention against the Named Defendants rather than the pursuit of valid claims.”
NBA commissioner Adam Silver did not want to comment on the lawsuit when asked about it last month.
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