“The Logo” is in a logjam now that a man has lodged a lawsuit against NBA Hall of Famer Jerry West, alleging that the Los Angeles Clippers’ executive pledged to pay him $2.5 million for help in signing All-Star player Kawhi Leonard in the summer of 2019.
West and Leonard are denying the influence, but Johnny Wilkes’ lawsuit was reported first Thursday by TMZ Sports and claimed that Leonard’s uncle, Dennis Robertson, was to receive a house in Southern California and a travel expense account if Leonard signed with the Clippers.
Leonard was the NBA’s most highly sought free agent in 2019 after leading the Toronto Raptors to an NBA championship. He signed a three-year, $103 million contract. The NBA is investigating the claims, USA Today reported.
“That has nothing to do with me swaying my mind to go somewhere,” Leonard said when asked about the lawsuit during his Zoom postgame press conference Thursday night. “I’m from L.A. and I grew up here my whole life. Out here, people try to find any way to get some money, so he probably won’t be the last. I know a lot of people out here.”
The lawsuit also alleges that Clippers owner Steve Ballmer would fund a $100 million marketing campaign for Leonard.
“I deny engaging in any improper conduct in connection with the signing of Kawhi Leonard,” West told TMZ Sports, followed by an official Clippers statement that said the lawsuit “is replete with inaccuracies and the allegations are baseless.”
In one part of the lawsuit, Wilkes states that he supplied critical information, such as Leonard wanting “a great life as a Clipper and after,” a roster with “a great deal of upside” and for the Clippers to “do whatever it takes to compete with the Los Angeles Lakers.”
Is that all it takes to know to sue for $2.5 million? Clippers super-fan Billy Crystal then has a case, too.