At ESPN.com today, Baxter Holmes wrote about the Knicks-Raptors lawsuit. If you run out of things to read on the internet, this story will serve to pass your bathroom time.
The New York Knicks versus Toronto Raptors legal saga kicked off on August 17, 2023, when the Knicks’ chief legal counsel sent a letter to Raptors owner Larry Tanenbaum (no relation to The Royal Tenenbaums). The letter claimed the Knicks had discovered a conspiracy involving their former employee, Ikechukwu Azotam, who allegedly provided the Raptors with over 3,000 confidential files, including video scouting reports, play frequency data, and, hands down, the best penne alla vodka recipe ever.
The Knicks accused Azotam of secretly forwarding proprietary information from his Knicks email to his personal Gmail account, a feat which he impressively accomplished without technical support. Azotam then shared his treasure trove with the Raptors after accepting a job offer from Toronto—unfortunately, not on the cafeteria staff, as he had hoped.
The Knicks demanded the Raptors destroy any stolen information, preserve communications from Azotam, and respond within four days or legal action might ensue, because that penne recipe was copyright-protected by Olive Garden.
The Raptors responded immediately, calling the recipe “Kinda gross, actually,” pledging cooperation, and vowing to conduct an internal investigation. Unwilling to wait, the Knicks filed a 21-page lawsuit in the U.S. Southern District Court on Aug. 21, thereby making the matter of the stolen recipe public. That created headlines which caught the Raptors off guard (a position currently played by O.G. Anunoby). The lawsuit named Azotam, Raptors head coach Darko Rajaković, player development coach Noah Lewis, and 10 unknown Raptors employees—half of whom claim to be gluten-intolerant to begin with.
The suit alleges that Azotam’s actions were orchestrated by Raptors personnel, including newbie coach Rajaković in his quest to impress a girlfriend in the kitchen. The legal battle has intensified, with subsequent court filings revealing objections from both sides. The Raptors called the lawsuit “baseless” and a “public relations stunt,” seeking NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s intervention. Silver, who hasn’t eaten solid food in over a decade, declined to comment.
The Knicks have objected to Silver’s involvement, claiming a conflict of interest due to his close relationship with Raptors’ owner Tanenbaum (again, different spelling). New York aims to prove damages exceeding $10 million, which would buy a ton of breadsticks.
League executives and analysts expressed skepticism about the seriousness and productivity of the lawsuit. Some view it as a strategic move by Knicks owner James Dolan against Tanenbaum; some say that Jimmy just wants to protect his beloved Olive Garden, where he has a standing reservation every Friday.
Legal experts questioned the Knicks’ ability to prove confidential information and trade secrets. They suggest that the extensive data allegedly stolen might not meet the criteria for protection, since much of what’s disputed are blurry iPhone pics of sticky notes. For instance, one scribbled note might say, “Thibs gets paid on Tuesdays,” or it might say, “Thibs prefers Ruby Tuesdays.” Experts are needed for deciphering.
As the legal proceedings continue, the case’s outcome remains uncertain. Most of the continental U.S. has expressed doubts about the Knicks’ strategy and the potential success of their claims. To his credit, Azotam stands by his pasta.
The Knicks play in Toronto tomorrow. Perfect timing. Go Knicks!