Sports Law Blog
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Sunday, April 29, 2007
Boston Celtics and the Law
Tonight at 7:15 p.m. EST I will be a guest on Celticsstuff Live (update: podcast available here) a radio show devoted to discussion of the Boston Celtics, my favorite NBA team. We will be discussing a recent post that I helped to write on The Situationist entitled "The Situation of the NBA Draft," which examined how NBA players' success is often based on the situation in which they play, even though we tend to judge them as individuals.
We will also be discussing four Celtics-related legal developments that have arisen in the last week:
1) Tony Allen Acquitted: Shooting guard Tony Allen, who had been charged with aggravated battery relating to a Chicago restaurant shooting and was facing two to five years in prison, was acquitted last week in a bench trial before an Illinois state judge. Last September, I wrote a lengthy article on Allen's trial entitled "Tony Allen's Trial: Contemplating Guilt." At least from afar, it's interesting that Allen was acquitted since, according to some reports, the Chicago Police Department had the entire shooting on videotape (although I've also read that the videotape actually exonerated Allen--and as we know, establishing reasonable doubt in a criminal trial is a low threshold). In any event, Allen, who is rehabbing from a serious knee injury, still faces a civil lawsuit from Marktwain Johnson, the man whom Allen allegedly directed someone in his group to "F--k him up!"
2) Sebastian Telfair Arrested: Point guard Sebastian Telfair, who had a disappointing season after the Celtics traded the #7 pick in the 2006 NBA draft to obtain him, was arrested by the NYPD last week after officers, who had pulled Telfair over for speeding, found a loaded .45-caliber Colt semiautomatic handgun in his car. The gun, which was not registered in Telfair's name and does appear to be his, was under the passenger seat. A victim of a robbery last fall, Telfair has been charged with felony second-degree possession of a weapon since under New York law, "when drugs or weapons are found in a car, everybody in the vehicle is charged with the related offense, unless a single person admits it belongs to him."
Controversially, the Celtics responded to the arrest by removing Telfair's nameplate from his practice facility locker and pledging that he would never play another game for them. Telfair's attorney, Ed Hayes, lambasted the Celtics for this presumption of guilt maneuver, saying,
"It's a cheap shot and my client is very disappointed. It seemed to me that they were looking for an opportunity to dump this kid who has worked really hard in his life . . . He's never been arrested before. He came from total poverty and made enormous sacrifices for his family and I think that entitles him to the benefit of the doubt from the public as to what really happened here."
3) Kendrick Perkins Sued for Breach of Contract: Center Kendrick Perkins, who will hopefully be supplanted by Greg Oden next season (I can dream), has been sued by Michael Rylas, his former high school assistant coach who would later become his personal trainer/manager/confidant, for breach of contract. Right after Perkins was selected with the 28th pick in the 2003 NBA Draft out of Ozen High School in Beaumont (TX), Rylas moved with Perkins to Massachusetts and lived with him until last fall. During that time, Perkins paid Rylas, apparently without a contract and perhaps under the table, for various services (training, investing advice, tax advice--basically being Perkins' Chief of Staff).
Then, on September 7, 2006, Ryals and Perkins entered into a formal written contract that called for Rylas to continue to perform those services in exchange for 6 percent of whatever Perkins earned from his NBA contract, but excluding monies he would receive from endorsements or incentives. Perkins would then sign a 4-year, $16 million contract extension with the Celtics but did not, according to Rylas, live up to his end of the bargain.