The New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors may not have the longest rivalry in the NBA, but they certainly have one of the most fearsome. On top of the fact that the two division rivals have often been good at the same time despite some bumps in the road, their matchups are marked by constant physicality.
It appears as though the animosity that guides them is starting to percolate over to the courtroom, as the Knicks are taking legal action against Toronto. If what the Knicks are alleging is to be believed, a Raptors employee may have been involved in some basketball espionage and thievery.
According to Fred Katz of The Athletic, Ikechukwu Azotam, who was hired by the Knicks as a video coordinator in 2020 before joining the Raptors, illegally took “thousands of proprietary files” from the Knicks before he started his new job with their rivals north of the border.
The lawsuit states that Azotam took “confidential information such as play frequency reports, a prep book for the 2022-23 season, video scouting files and materials, and more” from the Knicks. “Given the clear violation of our employment agreement, criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this action,” said a statement from the Knicks.”
The chaotic offseason for Masai Ujiri continues.
Toronto Raptors sued by Knicks, accused of stealing proprietary files
Azotam played four years of college basketball at Quinnipiac, averaging 12.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game over his total collegiate stint. After briefly playing overseas in Spain, he took a job as a graduate assistant with the University of Texas and parlayed that into a spot with the Detroit Pistons.
The lawsuit claims that Azotam, who was hired by the Raptors in June, “illegally procured and disclosed proprietary information” to members of the Raptors, including head coach Darko Rajakovic and Noah Lewis, a player development coach.
Toronto is alleged to have directed Azotam to use his subscription to the Knicks’ Synergy Sports service to transfer film and data over to the Raptors. New York is alleging that Azotam signed a confidentiality clause that prevented him from revealing this unique information.
The Raptors haven’t played one game of basketball in the Rajakovic era, and he has already found himself embroiled in a legal scandal. While it remains to be seen how this case will proceed in the courts, these are some very damning accusations to be thrown down by James Dolan and the Knicks.
And you thought the OG Anunoby trade drama was the end of the offseason fireworks involving these teams.