The Toronto Raptors seek dismissal of a lawsuit filed by the New York Knicks that says the Raptors – including new head coach Darko Rajakovic — conspired to steal thousands of videos and scouting files through a former Knicks employee.
The initial lawsuit the Knicks filed in Manhattan federal court seeks unspecified damages and a ban on the further spread of the Knicks’ trade secrets. The Raptors called the Knicks’ lawsuit “baseless” and “a public relations stunt by the Knicks” in a court filing on Monday.
The Knicks said the theft occurred after the Raptors hired and recruited “a mole” — identified in the lawsuit as Ikechukwu Azotam — within the Knicks organization. The lawsuit said Azotam had directed the planning, organizing and distribution of all video scouting responsibilities for the Knicks’ coaching staff since August 2021 before leaving the team this August.
The Knicks lawsuit said on Aug. 11, Azotam sent two emails from his Knicks email address to his new Raptors email address containing “proprietary information with highly confidential material.”
The Knicks blamed Rajakovic, player development coach Noah Lewis, the Raptors’ parent company — Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. — and 10 unidentified Raptors employees, saying that they received proprietary information and sometimes directed Azotam to misuse his access to Knicks information.
“As we have previously stated, given the theft of proprietary and confidential files and clear violation of criminal and civil law, we were left no choice but to take this to federal court and are confident the judicial system will agree,” a spokesman for Madison Square Garden Sports said in a statement.
The lawsuit said the Raptors employees had directed Azotam to misuse his access to a Knicks subscription to Synergy Sports to create and transfer for their use over 3,000 files consisting of film information and data, including 3,358 video files. The Raptors’ employees had accessed the stolen files more than 2,000 times, the lawsuit said.
The Raptors said the lawsuit doesn’t make sense and note that the Knicks have agreed that commissioner Adam Silver has jurisdiction over such cases. The Raptors also said the broad scope of the Knicks’ complaint would make a resolution in court unlikely before 2025.