The New York Knicks are suing the Toronto Raptors, alleging a former Knicks employee stole materials from the team before accepting a position with the Raptors and sharing those materials with his new employers.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Manhattan federal court, alleges that Ikechukwu Azotam, who worked for the Knicks for three years in the video, analytics and player development departments, secretly forwarded proprietary information—including scouting reports, play frequency reports, a prep book and a link to third-party licensed software called Synergy Sports—from his Knicks email account to his personal Gmail account, and then shared that information with the Raptors upon accepting a role there in late July.
The Knicks allege the Raptors used Azotam’s proprietary “insider information” to assist the team’s “novice head coach” Darko Rajaković, who the lawsuit emphasized has never been a head coach of an NBA team, in organizing, planning and structuring his coaching and video operations staff.
Azotam signed a confidentiality agreement with the Knicks, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit—which names the Raptors organization, Azotam, Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis and ten other unnamed Raptors employees as defendants and seeks unspecified damages as well as an injunction forbidding the team from using the materials—emphasized that keeping these materials confidential is important to the team’s “efforts to maintain a competitive advantage over their rivals, including the Raptors.”
Forbes has reached out to both the Knicks and Raptors for comment.
3,000. That’s how many files containing “film information and data” the lawsuit alleges the Raptors were able to access via the Knicks’ Synergy Sports Software, which the company uses to store, review, edit and annotate game footage. The lawsuit alleges that those files were accessed over 2,000 times by the Raptors by August 15.
The Knicks argued in their lawsuit that the Raptors “recruited and used Azotam to serve as a mole within the Knicks organization.”
The Raptors hired Rajaković to be their new head coach in June after a season in which the team had a 41-41 record, finishing ninth in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Rajaković had spent the previous three seasons as an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies. A native of Serbia, Rajaković had coached in Europe prior to joining NBA coaching staffs. The Knicks had a 47-35 record last season, finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference.
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