/Michael Avenatti tweets Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol involved in alleged Nike cover-up

Michael Avenatti tweets Deandre Ayton, Bol Bol involved in alleged Nike cover-up

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Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame as the lawyer for Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump, has been arrested and charged with extorting Nike, embezzlement and fraud.
Wochit, USA TODAY

Michael Avenatti promised to “disclose a major high school/college basketball scandal” that involves Nike at a news conference. The embattled attorney settled for dropping the names of Phoenix Suns rookie Deandre Ayton and University of Oregon standout Bol Bol via Twitter on Tuesday.

“Nike’s attempt at diversion and cover-up will fail miserably once prosecutors realize they have been played by Nike and their lawyers at (the law firm) Boies (Schiller & Flexner),” Avenatti wrote in one tweet. “This reaches the highest levels of Nike.”

Nike said in a statement Monday that the company “will not be extorted or hide information that is relevant to a government investigation” and it has “been cooperating with the government’s investigation into NCAA basketball for over a year.”

Avenatti wrote on Twitter that Nike officials “have not been cooperating with investigators for over a year. Unless you count lying in response to subpoenas and withholding documents as ‘cooperating.’ “

Nike did not have an immediate response to Avenatti’s latest claims when reached by USA TODAY on Tuesday. 

Avenatti was indicted Monday on federal charges in two states, including over allegations he ran a scheme to extort up to $25 million from Nike. He was arraigned Monday evening and released on a $300,000 appearance bond. 

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Avenatti hinted that the mother of Ayton, the Suns’ top overall pick in last year’s draft, and others received “cash payments” from Nike.

In another tweet, Avenatti wrote “Bol Bol and his handlers also received large sums from Nike.” Bol Bol, the son of late NBA player Manute Bol, has played nine games this season with the Ducks.  The 7-foot-2 center suffered a season-ending foot injury, but has been traveling with the team.

Oregon made the Sweet 16 last weekend and will play Virginia on Thursday.

A message left by USA TODAY with Oregon seeking comment on Avenatti’s allegations was not immediately returned Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Boies, Schiller & Flexner declined to comment.

Ayton taped over the Nike logos on his shoes during his one-and-done season at the University of Arizona last year. He signed a four-year deal with Puma last summer. 

Follow A.J. Perez on Twitter @byajperez

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