Experts explain why Knicks’ lawsuit against the Raptors might be blown out of proportion

Antonio Kozlow profile picture
Sports Editor
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There is a reason why employees sign confidentiality agreements with their companies, and considering the NBA is such an upscale industry, even the more reason to secure information. This is a league were workers are constantly rotating between franchises and the possibility of stealing valuable data is very real.

The true question here is if the 14 names involved in the Knicks‘ lawsuit against the Raptors, including coach Darko Rajakovic and coworker Ikechukwu Azotam, actually stole information of any worth.

The report alleges that they “illegally shared 3,358 video files” and that “the stolen files were accessed over 2,000 times by the Raptors‘ defendants”.

As this is a common practice, many NBA executives have addressed the situation but preferred to remain anonymous while the lawsuit resolves itself. One believes the accusation is bad on paper, but in reality it might be exaggerated to build up their case.

“What he’s being accused of feels really bad. It might be inflated a little bit, but it sounds like a lot, and if he forwarded (information) to another team while he was working for the Knicks, that’s not good,” said a league executive. “Sure, you can say all the teams have a lot of the same stuff, but (Knicks head coach) Tom Thibodeau is paid $8 million a year for a reason; his opinion is valuable. How many games in this league come down to the last possession? Tendencies matter, and in the playoffs they matter even more. Sure, everyone knows this stuff, but depending on how deep a team goes and who’s doing the digging, it matters.”

Another executive simply said that this is the reality of the copycat culture inside the NBA competition and finds it difficult to regulate.

“I’m not being dismissive of this,” he started out. “But people take stuff all the time (when they change jobs). Yes, it’s proprietary, but it’s usually their own product; work that they’ve done over time. So, without knowing the sensitivity level or what was taken or how egregious it was, it’s not something I’d care about that much.

“And timing matters, too. If it was mid-season and he was taking stuff for the current year, or the upcoming season, I might be more upset about it, but if it’s from the previous year, I don’t know if I’d be all that mad.”

Lawyer believes that the New York club has all the evidence to make their case against the Toronto organization

“From an employment law perspective, it’s a no-brainer,” explained Matt Dewer, a Toronto-based lawyer. “If an employee is caught funnelling documents and strategy to a competitor, they would be fired, and efforts would be made to recover whatever damages were owed. It’s an open-and-shut case.”

Now it’s up to the Knicks to prove that the information stolen was of actual value to their franchise, because on paper it’s hard to understand how game film is worth fighting for in a court of law.

“It’s pretty telling that in the suit the Knicks left the damages they’re seeking as ‘TBD,'” Dewar added. “The Knicks don’t even know themselves what damages they’ve suffered.”

The outcome of this lawsuit might come through in many ways, maybe a six-figure fine? Maybe even a future second-round pick just to settle the score? The truth is, this is a common practice in the NBA and the Knicks are taking a step foward in trying to erradicate this inmoral culture.

Antonio is a life long sports enthusiast and professional journalist, who shares an obssesive urge to find and dig up the most interesting facts to guide gamblers towards more exciting, yet safe bets. In his own words, ''you can never really know enough about the things you love''.

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