Nike and Duke have both responded to Michael Avenatti’s accusation that Nike was prepared to pay Zion Williamson in high school.
Nike’s response is essentially what we said although they said it more politely: “Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”
Translated: Michael Avenatti is scum. He tried to extort us and we immediately called the feds who indicted him. He’s up on charges in Cali for allegedly ripping off a handicapped client among other awful things. Did it occur to you there might be a reason he needed $20 million in a hurry? You want to believe a guy like that? Go right ahead.
He’s a nasty bit of work, but we’re still going to answer questions when they’re asked - by the feds, not this bozo.
And in the follow up statement, Nike will say: In our response to unfounded accusations by a man under indictment for fraud and extortion we inadvertently offended the clown community. Nike recognizes the valuable contributions made by Bozo, Avenatti, and many other clowns who have amused, entertained and (allegedly) extorted Americans for decades. Accordingly, we are now announcing our new line of clown shoes for discriminating harlequins and buffoons available soon at your local store. Felon models to come later in the year. Check at the commissary.
For its part, Duke said this: “As we have stated previously, all Duke student-athletes are subject to a thorough review to ensure their eligibility. Beyond that, we have no further comment on this matter.”
We can tell you that during the season we spoke to someone close to the Duke program and we asked specifically about this. We were told that Duke was keenly aware that people would try to get to Williamson and that they were accordingly being extraordinarily careful and attentive to that.
In other words, Duke was clearly aware that there was a massive phenomenon happening and that lots of people were going to try to cash in. If you think anyone around the program was unaware of it, think again.