Update: Pelicans’ No. 1 Draft Pick Zion Williamson Sues To End Agreement With Marketing Firm. Firm Threatens $100M Countersuit

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Written by Ann Brown
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Duke’s Zion Williamson sits and takes a break during a timeout in the first half of a first round men’s college basketball game against Central Florida in the NCAA Tournament in Columbia, S.C. Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

Former Duke basketball star Zion Williamson, who was New Orleans Pelicans’ No. 1 pick in last week’s NBA draft, realized he may have signed on the dotted line way too soon with a sports branding and marketing company and now he is suing to be released from the contract.

Williamson is suing to terminate an agreement with a Florida marketing company Prime Sports. According to Williamson’s attorney, the deal was unlawful under North Carolina law.

The suit filed in federal court in North Carolina reveals Williamson signed a marketing deal with Prime Sports president Gina Ford and Prime Sports on April 20, five days after he had declared his intention to enter the NBA draft.

“That agreement included a clause that it could not be terminated for five years. Williamson’s family told Ford and Prime Sports on May 31 that it was ending the agreement. The agency responded by saying that if Williamson terminated the deal, they would sue for damages in excess of $100 million.

Williamson has since signed with CAA Sports for his contractual and marketing representation,” ESPN reported.

The suit claims the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the National Basketball Players Association — nor is it a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida.

“Prime Sports Marketing’s actions towards Williamson blatantly violated the North Carolina statute specifically designed to protect student athletes. Mr. Williamson properly exercised his rights under the law to void his business dealings with Prime Sports Marketing. Prime Sports Marketing’s continued threats against Mr. Williamson made necessary the filing of this lawsuit,” Jeffrey S. Klein, an attorney for Williamson, told ESPN in a statement.