NBANew York KnicksToronto Raptors

New York Knicks Accuse Toronto Raptors of Using Former Employee to Access Confidential Information

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UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: New York Knicks owner James Dolan watches the game during the 2nd half of the Knicks 97-96 win over the Utah Jazz at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

The New York Knicks are suing its former employee and the Toronto Raptors over stealing proprietary and confidential information. 

According to SNY’s Ian Begley, the lawsuit claims that Ikechukwu Azotam, a former Knicks video staff member, secretly funneled classified team reports to the Raptors, including new head coach Darko Rajakovich and other employees.

Bagley’s series of tweets revealed that the stolen proprietary information included play frequency reports, video scouting reports, and a prep book for the 2022-23 season. In addition to that, the lawsuit mentioned the document signed by Azotam as a Knick employee. The agreement specified that Azotam needs to maintain the secrecy of confidential team information.

The defendants in the lawsuit allegedly instructed Azotam to access the Knicks’ Synergy Sports subscription. Azotam supposedly transferred over 3,000 files of film information and data from his Knicks email to his personal Gmail account. Consequently, he distributed the files to his Raptors bosses, including Rajakovich, player development coach Noah Lewis, and 10 others. The defendants allegedly accessed the files over 2,000 times.

Furthermore, Azotam only conveyed the information about the Raptors’ job offer to the Knicks in July 2023. At the time, he was believed to have already violated the confidentiality agreement with New York by secretly transferring the classified team information through email.

Consequently, the Raptors issued a statement regarding the lawsuit filed by the Knicks. Josh Lewenberg, TSN Sports’ Raptors Beat Reporter, tweeted a picture of the statement:

“MLSE and the Toronto Raptors received a letter from MSG on Thursday of last week bringing this complaint to our attention. MLSE responded promptly, making clear our intention to conduct an internal investigation and to fully cooperate.”

“MLSE has not been advised that a lawsuit was being filed or has been filed following its correspondence with MSG. The company strongly denies any involvement in the matters alleged. MLSE and the Toronto Raptors will reserve further comment until this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”

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Unsurprisingly, the Raptors have found themselves in hot water before. In the 2019 NBA Finals, Masai Ujiri, the team’s General Manager, got into a scuffle with Alameda County Sheriff Deputy Alan Strickland. As a result, both parties filed lawsuits but ultimately dropped them all.