NY Knicks Sue Former Employee, Toronto Raptors For Allegedly Stealing Proprietary Information
The New York Knicks filed a lawsuit Monday against a former employee, the Toronto Raptors, and members of the Raptors organization, alleging they “illegally procured and then disclosed proprietary information.”
ESPN reports the Knicks filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan and states that Ikechukwu Azotam, who worked for the Knicks from 2020 to 2023, sent the Raptors thousands of confidential files, including play frequency reports, video scouting files, opposition research, and more after the Raptors began recruiting him to join its organization this summer.
The Knicks say Azotam violated a confidentiality clause and added that members of the Raptors organizations “directed Azotam’s actions and/or knowingly benefited from Azotam’s wrongful acts.”
According to the suit, Azotam “illegally shared more than 3,300 video files,” and the video files were accessed more than 2,000 times by Raptors defendants, including head coach Darko Rajakovic, player development coach Noah Lewis, and 10 unnamed team employees.
Additionally, the Knicks lawsuit states the Raptors “conspired 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.”
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Raptors, responded in a joint statement with the Canada-based basketball team.
“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 team is seeking unspecified damages to be determined, that the Raptors refrain from using the confidential information obtained, and that “Azotam can have no benefit as a result of his misappropriation and wrongful acts.”
The Knicks and Raptors are in the Atlantic Division of the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Last season, the Knicks finished with a 47-35 record, while the Raptors went 41-41.