Zion Williamson's lawyer calls on judge to throw out disputed agent contract

Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Basketball

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Charlotte lawyer for former Duke University basketball star Zion Williamson called on a federal judge Wednesday to void the player's original agent contract, a key element in a year-long $100 million legal fight.

In his motion to U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs of Winston-Salem, attorney John Wester argued that the agreement Williamson signed with Florida agent Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing in April 2019 violated an N.C. law designed to protect student-athletes from unscrupulous agents.

Specifically, Wester's filing repeats his client's central argument that his contract with Ford was never legal because she was not a registered sports agent in North Carolina when Williamson signed it.

Moreover, Wester writes, the agreement failed to include a required warning to the player of the ramifications of signing with an agent, including the loss of his college eligibility.

Both elements are mandated by the state's Uniform Athlete Agents Act, which according to Wester's filing, protects athletes from "manipulative, underhanded behavior" from agents.

Ford's lead attorney in the federal lawsuit, Alvin Pittman of Los Angeles, did not immediately respond to an Observer email Wednesday seeking comment.


Williamson, who played for Duke in the 2018-19 season before becoming the top pick in the 2019 NBA draft, signed with Ford on April 20, 2019. His lawsuit claims the agent started recruiting him during basketball season when the then-18-year-old quickly became one the country's best college players.

Six weeks later he announced that he was breaking what Wester described Wednesday as an "ill-advised, invalid, and onerous agreement" to sign with another group. He filed suit against Ford in the federal Middle District of North Carolina in June.

Ford countersued six days later in the state courts of Miami-Dade County, Fla. She's seeking the $100 million that Williamson's contract says he would owe her if he broke the agreement within five years.

In the months since, both cases have bogged down in a Four Corners of procedural claims and counterclaims, a status Wednesday's filing hopes to speed up.


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