Friday, July 24, 2009


Nike said it is giving back tapes to two accredited journalists who filmed Xavier's Jordan Crawford dunking over James during a recent pickup game at a skills academy run by the superstar at the University of Akron. The sports apparel giant said only one of the tapes captured the infamous dunk, which has been an Internet sensation.
Nike said it took the tapes based on its media guidelines that no pickup games be filmed.
This week, videos emerged of Crawford's dunk in which he drove the lane and slammed over James, who was not guarding him and was the last defender between Crawford and the basket.

This one, however, was a big deal. And not just because the dunk in question happened on the head of LeBron James himself, but because we will likely never be able to see it -- thanks to a rep from Nike allegedly confiscating video of the incident shortly after it took place.
More Coverage: Jordan Crawford Talks About Dunk
“It was two handed”..I didn’t even realize what I had done until after. Everyone was talking about it.”

Nike basketball senior director Lynn Merritt confiscated tapes from two photographers – one being freelancer Ryan Miller - filming Monday night's games in which James played with the college players for the LeBron James Skills Academy. Miller had been filming for about 15 minutes - which included footage of the high school players - and was approached almost immediately after Crawford's dunk over The King.
Presumably, the decision was made that by allowing this video to get out and appear on YouTube, it would somehow be damaging to LeBron's reputation, which is obviously something that the people of Nike don't want to have happen. But by making sure no one will ever see the clip by confiscating tapes, they honestly could not have done a worse job of handling the situation.
tweetmeme_source = 'NBAFanHouse';
First of all, who cares if someone gets dunked on in some summer pickup game, even if it is the reigning MVP of the league? It's not like everyone is going all out in these things, and while a dunk like that might hype up the reputation of a relative unknown like Crawford, it's going to have an effect of absolutely zero in the way people perceive LeBron James.Second, and likely of more importance to the folks at Nike, is the fact that this story has spread like wildfire over the internet. It's already popped up on several major sports blogs, and Twitter is blowing up on the subject, with people sending around old video clips of LeBron getting dunked on, and even making their own Nike-themed posters of the now infamous event.Bad move, Nike. And let's not forget, this comes after an unexpected playoff exit, and a controversy about sportsmanship when LeBron didn't shake hands with the Magic players or speak to the media until two days later. By letting this video out, a relatively small number of people would have seen it, and that would have been that. By preventing it from seeing the light of day, Nike is adding to the increasing perception that LeBron is a prima donna, who is interested in nothing more than self-promotion.

White Chocolate Returns

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 15th Issue of THE PILLAR

Below is a PDF with the latest version of The Pillar, Thomas M. Cooley Law Schools Student Newspaper. I am the Sports Editor and have a nice article in this issue regarding Andy Oliver's situation....Enjoy!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Draft Results from this year

CAA dominated all other agencies in the 2009 NFL Draft.  BDA Sports was king of the 2009 NBA Draft. Scott Boras Corp killed it in the 2009 MLB Draft.  Boras is advising the top 3 picks of the draft, 6 of the 32 players taken in the first round, and 9 players through the end of the second round.  Dream about those commissions starting…now.  Luckily for the competition, Boras did not do much after the second round, but I am sure that the company does not mind after they finish bathing in stacks of $100s.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Areas A Sports Lawyer Might Work In

Collective Bargaining Agreements – General Contract Provisions (ex: minimum player salary, maximum agent fees, etc.), Merchandising and Licensing Rights (ex: endorsement or appearance issues), Standard Form Contracts, Scope of a Commissioner’s Authority.

Workers’ Compensation – Claims for retired players are increasing and there is discussion of whether college athletes are eligible.

Sports-Related Torts – Liability for Fan Injuries at Athletic Contests, Educational Malpractice, Duty and Required Standard of Care of a Team Physician Treating Scholarship Athletes, Tax-Related Issues (ex: player’s compensation, tax status of teams, college revenues).

Antitrust Issues in Professional Sports – NBA/NFL Salary Cap, NFL Antitrust Litigation, Major League Baseball’s Exemption from Antitrust Laws.

NCAA Regulations – Eligibility for Professional Drafts (ex: jeopardizing college eligibility by signing with an agent – basketball & football players can inquire about their market value and basketball players can even declare for the draft without losing eligibility), Procedural Due Process (the NCAA is not a state actor), Compliance with Title IX’s Gender Equity Requirement (I personally think this is a very hot issue…realted to giving equal opportunity to participate in sports for both sexes), NCAA Drug Testing Program

American Soccer Team Continues to Shine on July 4th

The young American soccer team continued to dominate as they beat Grenada 4-0 Saturday night. Led by Freddy Adu's goal in the 7th minute, the American's dominated play with a young squad that consisted of only two players that played on the runner-up Confederations Cup team.

RIP Steve McNair

Saturday night QB and 3 time NFL Pro bowl selection, Steve McNair, was fatally shot in Nashville, Tennessee, adding yet another name to the list of celebrity athletes and entertainer that have tragically perished over the past two weeks....

The End of NBA Agents???

Stephon Marbury Uses Players' Association to represent him as Free Agent

Rick has written extensively about the benefits of players' associations retaining the capacity to negotiate contracts on behalf of individual players--meaning that players use the players' association, instead of an agent or agency, to negotiate employment contracts with teams.

Boston Celtics' free agent guard Stephon Marbury has decided to use National Basketball Players Association' deputy counsel Hal Biagas to represent him this off-season. Last season, Biagas negotiated Marbury's buyout with the Knicks (a subject discussed earlier this year at the Yale Law School Sports Litigation Panel which Biagas, Alan Milstein, and I were on).

Here is Marbury's reasoning, as told to Marc Spears of the Boston Globe:

“The best thing about the NBPA is that they work for you for free,’’ said Marbury via e-mail. “When you have a team that negotiates the Collective Bargaining Agreement for all the players representing you, there is strength in numbers.’’

Although Marbury is a rather unique personality, perhaps other players might turn to the NBPA for representation. After-all, players' have a financial incentive to do so: while an NBA agent typically receives a 4% commission on a player contract, the player can keep that money if he uses the NBPA instead. So if Marbury signs for $2 million with, say, the Washington Wizards, he'll keep the $80,000 that would have been paid to his agent; Biagas and the NBPA won't get a commission. $80,000 is not an insignificant chunk of change, even for an NBA player.

Then again, NBA agents might argue that they are in a better position to zealously represent players, since their interests are only with the player and not with the collective entity of players (i.e., the NBPA). Of course, when an agent represents more than one player, particularly multiple players on the same team, seeking the same salary cap space, a player might question the zeal behind his agent's representation.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

MJ's Legal Team

In all the MJ hoopla, it would be a crime to overlook those JDs who kept the King of Pop out of trouble—and in some cases—out of prison. “Two child-molestation investigations (no convictions), two divorces, myriad civil lawsuits over concerts, special performances and soured business deals, near-bankruptcy and the threatened foreclosure of his Neverland ranch kept teams of lawyers busy.” [CNN]

Plus, the possibly that Michael didn’t leave behind a will is enough to ensure many embittered legal battles are left to ensue. While family-appointed Dewey & LeBouef attorney L. Londell McMillan (NYU School of Law ‘90) has a lot on his plate as he closes the final posthumous chapter of the MJ legacy, many legal greats precede him from during the icon’s lifetime.

Unfortunately, nailing down who did (and did not) represent Jackson isn’t easy. Over the years, he hired and fired enough lawyers to staff a medium-sized law firm. So consider this Michael Jackson’s greatest legal hits.

1. John Branca
• Ziffren, Brittenham, Branca, Fischer, Gilbert-Lurie, Stiffelman, Cook, Johnson, Lande & Wolf LLP
• UCLA School of Law ‘75
Fast Fact: At Branca’s first wedding, Michael Jackson was Best Man. (Little Richard served as the minister.) [Wikipedia]

Pop Practice: Thriller deal; Acquired rights to ATV Music, and The Beatles publishing.

“Branca had a surprise for Jackson. The attorney said casually, ‘By the way, the ATV catalogue is available.’ Jackson looked puzzled. Branca added teasingly, ‘It includes a few things you might be interested in.’ ‘Like what?’ Jackson asked. ‘Northern Songs,’ Branca replied. Jackson recognized that name. ‘You mean the Northern Songs?’ ‘Yeah, Mike . . . the Beatles.’ Jackson did a full turn, jumped in the air and shrieked. ‘But wait,’ Branca warned. ‘Other people are also after the catalogue. It’s going to be a struggle.’ Jackson replied, ‘I don’t care. I want it . . . please.’” [Los Angeles Times]

2. Allen Grubman
• Grubman Indursky & Shire, P.C.
• Brooklyn Law School ‘67
Fast Fact: Father of infamous car-crasher Lizzie Grubman. [New York Daily News]

L. Lee Phillips
• Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP
• Cornell Law School ‘59

Bertram Fields
• Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP
• Harvard Law School ‘52
Fast Fact: Anthony Pellicano wiretap case—nuf’ said. [Washington Post]

Pop Practice: All three took over after Branca. Grubman negotiated Michael Jackson’s estimated $30 million deal with Sony Music. Fields also represented Jackson during contract talks with Sony Music in the early 1990s, as well as during the 1993 child molestation allegations made against Jackson in 1993.

“Michael replaced John Branca with three specialist attorneys: Allen Grubman (to handle negotiations with his record company), Lee Phillips (music publishing), and Bertram Fields (litigation).” [Michael Jackson the Solo Years, page 93]

3. Mark Geragos
• Geragos & Garagos
• Loyola Marymount Law School ‘82
Fast Fact: In the early stages of the Michael Jackson molestation case, Geragos handled that case as well as Scott Peterson’s death penalty case simultaneously.

Benjamin Brafman
• Brafman Associates
• Ohio Northern Law School ‘74/NYU School of Law L.LM ‘79
Fast Fact: “A self-described ‘short Jewish guy’ who slept through yeshiva and did stand-up in the Catskills.” [New York Magazine]

Pop Practice: Briefly represented Jackson in 2004 child molestation case, replaced by Jackson on April 26, 2004 with Thomas Mesereau.

“‘Mark Geragos and I are stepping down—or as the Jackson camp is suggesting, being replaced. The fact is, this point was coming to a head over a number of complicated legal and practical issues that it would be inappropriate to discuss at this time.’” [The New York Times]

4. Thomas Mesereau
• Mesereau & Yu
• University of California Hastings College of Law ‘79
Fast Fact: Named one of Barbara Walters “Ten Most Fascinating People” after representing and freeing actor Robert Blake, who was charged with murdering his wife. [CTV]

Pop Practice: Secured an acquittal for Jackson in his 2005 child molestation case.

Jackson’s Speech after the acquittal and Mesereau on Leno: (CONTINUED BELOW)


5. Brian Oxman
• Oxman & Jaroscak
• Loyola Marymont Law School ‘76
Fast Fact: An Assistant Professor of Law at Irvine University College of Law—not to be confused with UC Irvine School of Law. []

Pop Practice: Fired by Mesereau from child molestation case.

“Oxman had come to the case as Randy Jackson’s lawyer from previous domestic skirmishes within the Jackson family. But he had no experience in criminal defense matters, and often slept through crucial sessions in Jackson’s child molestation case.” [Fox News]

“Michael Jackson hasn’t been dead three hours and Brian Oxman is on TV everywhere being identified as the attorney for the singer or his family. He is not. Brian Oxman was fired by Thomas Mesereau from Michael’s trial in 2005. I was there. He has no knowledge of Michael’s life for the last several years. Oxman sued Jackson looking for legal fees, and lost.” [Hollywood Reporter]

6. Joel Katz
• Greenberg Traurig, LLP
• University of Tennessee College of Law ‘69
Fast Fact: Before representing the King of Pop, the first client at his one-man law firm was Godfather of Soul James Brown. []

Pop Practice: Entertainment attorney at the time of Jackson’s death.

“In a statement Friday, Joel Katz, Jackson’s entertainment affairs attorney, gave no clues to how Jackson disposed of his estate. ‘Michael Jackson was a perfectionist, and his business affairs are worldwide,’ Katz said. ‘Many of them are quite ongoing and will be dealt with appropriately.’” [Associated Press]

7. Bob Sanger
• Sanger & Swysen
• UCLA School of Law ‘73
Fast Fact: Often talked with Jackson about psychology, Freud and Jung, Hawthorne, sociology, black history and sociology dealing with race issues. [Los Angeles Times]

Pop Practice: Local counsel in Santa Barbara, Calif.

“Sanger represented Michael Jackson for 16 years, and sat at the table with Jackson throughout the high-profile 2005 case in which the family of a boy accused Jackson of child sexual abuse. We spoke with Sanger late this afternoon: ‘What I did learn in the years that I represented him—particularly in that last case—is that he is a very kind person. Truly from his heart.’” [LA Weekly]

8. Peter Lopez
• Kleinberg Lopez Lange Cuddy & Klein LLP
• UCLA School of Law ‘74
Fast Fact: Married to Catherine Bach, the actress best known for playing Daisy Duke in the television series Dukes of Hazzard.

Pop Practice: Key transactional advisor late in life.

“Increasingly, Jackson’s inner circle is shrinking down to a core group of key advisers. Mindful of having taken bad advice in the past, he now relies on the select counsel of a handful of eminences grises. One of them is the suave Peter Lopez, a highly-regarded entertainment lawyer with excellent Hollywood credentials. ‘Michael is very excited to be moving forward.’ Lopez also insists that talk of a financial crisis is ‘hogwash.’ ‘Neverland is not being auctioned off, it’s simply that Michael has changed lenders.’” [The Guardian]

9. Johnnie L. Cochran
• Died March 30, 2005
• Loyola Marymount Law School ‘62
Fast Fact: The “L” in the late OJ murder defender’s middle name does not stand for anything. [Wikipedia]

Pop Practice: Represented Jackson in 1993 when the singer was accused of child molestation. No criminal charges filed.

“Johnnie Cochran Jr. was mourned Wednesday by O.J. Simpson, Elmer ‘Geronimo’ Pratt, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs and other celebrated clients, but he was also remembered as an attorney who sought justice for ordinary people and described as the Thurgood Marshall of his era. Famous defendants including Michael Jackson sat with Cochran colleagues and legal adversaries among thousands who filled West Angeles Cathedral for the lawyer’s funeral.” [The Union-Tribune]

10. Lance Spiegel
• Kaufman, Young, Spiegel, Robinson & Kenerson, LLP
• USC Law School ‘72

Pop Practice: Handled Jackson’s child custody affairs.

“Debbie Rowe is poised to take full custody of the two children she bore for Michael Jackson. It has been widely reported Debbie Rowe gave up her parental rights to Paris and Michael Jr. That is not true. We spoke with Lance Spiegel, the lawyer who repped Jackson at the time. Spiegel says under the law, the Department of Children and Family Services must conduct a parental fitness investigation before parental rights are terminated and that didn’t happen with Rowe.” [TMZ]

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

July 1st= NBA Free Agency Time....

It is now July 1st, be prepared to hear some crazy trades, trade talk and coaches getting fired. This is that exciting time in summer when all the NBA mayhem and hype starts to begin and teams and people talk a lot of trash that they won't back up. Be prepared for some good articles and comments from all involved. The Pistons started it all off last night when they fired Coach Curry after only ONE SEASON with the team.

This is a HUGE time for the Knicks as I expect Donnie Walsh to make some big moves. There is already talk about Jason Kidd and his ten assists per game moving to the Knickerbockers...