The NBA's New York Knicks filed a lawsuit Monday against the Toronto Raptors, alleging a former Knicks employee stole "proprietary information" and shared those materials with the Raptors after being hired by New York's division rival.
According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan federal court and obtained by Scripps News, the Knicks claim that Ikechukwu Azotam — who was employed by the team from 2020 to 2023 — illegally shared confidential information with his new employer, including scouting reports, play frequency reports, research on opponents and a prep book for the 2022-2023 season, among other materials.
Azotam worked first as an assistant video coordinator for the Knicks, and then as a director of video/analytics/player development assistant, the lawsuit states. The organization claims he knowingly violated the team's employment agreement, which contained a confidentiality clause requiring him to maintain secrecy about organizational information. Additionally, Azotam acknowledged a company information usage policy during his tenure that "expressly forbids the misappropriation of confidential and proprietary information."
The Knicks also accuse the Raptors of conspiring "to use Azotam’s position as a current Knicks insider to funnel proprietary information to the Raptors to help them organize, plan, and structure the new coaching and video operations staff."
The Raptors and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which own the team, responded to the lawsuit in a joint statement obtained by ESPN.
"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."
The Raptors organization, head coach Darko Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis, Azotam, and 10 other unnamed Raptors employees are listed as defendants in the case. The Knicks are seeking an immediate injunction against the defendants and unspecified damages to be determined at trial, among other things.
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