Did Nike Bribe Zion Williamson? Shoe Brand 'Will Not Respond,' Says Spokesperson

Did Nike Bribe Zion Williamson? Shoe Brand 'Will Not Respond,' Says Spokesperson

During an October federal criminal trial in NY, in which three men were convicted for their roles in pay-for-play schemes to send high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools, one of the defendant's attorney attempted to introduce wiretap recordings, in which former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussed what it would take for Williamson to sign with the Jayhawks. Additional details in the documents suggest that some of the payments were billed to Nike through fraudulent invoices disguised as business expenses.

Duke says it is "looking into" claims from lawyer Michael Avenatti that Nike paid Duke freshman phenom Zion Williamson's mother, Sharonda Sampson.

"We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it. Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations". Avenatti has yet to provide visual proof of any payments to persons connected to Williamson.

Nike has not responded to Avenatti, and the brand said it would not discuss his specific claims when contacted by Yahoo! "Nike will continue its cooperation with the government's investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case", the apparel company said in a statement via Dan Wetzel.

Messages made by USA TODAY Sports to Nike were not immediately returned on Saturday.

On June 30, 2016, the head of a Nike-sponsored AAU basketball club in Southern California exchanged texts with Shaun "Ice" Manning, the San Diego-based guardian for 7-foot center Brandon McCoy who played at Morse High and Cathedral Catholic.

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"Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats for the objective of obtaining millions of dollars in payments from a public company", Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, told the New York Times.

"The evidence is now in the hands of law enforcement", Avenatti tweeted. "Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility".

"If I get hit by a bus today, this story will go on, and Nike's corruption eventually will be exposed and the world will know what really happened here", he continued. He is expected to enter the NBA Draft and is projected to be chosen No. 1 overall.

Avenatti, who first hit the national scene as Stormy Daniels attorney in her lawsuits against President Donald Trump, has been charged with attempting to extort more than $20 million in payments from the sneaker company. "Still waiting on @Nike to refute a single document I have provided or my claim that they have bribed over 100 players to attend "Nike" colleges", he wrote.

Nike has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

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