Minnesota Timberwolves forward Michael Beasley is accusing his former agent and an AAU coach of conspiring to forge a relationship with him from the age of 14 and giving his mother improper cash benefits while Beasley starred at Kansas State, all in an effort to land the basketball prodigy as a client.
Beasley laid out the allegations in a lawsuit filed in Maryland a month ago in response to agent Joel Bell's wrongful termination lawsuit against him. Beasley said Bell gave his mother living expenses when he went to school there, which would likely violate NCAA rules and federal regulations governing sports agents.
The Associated Press left messages for attorneys representing Beasley and Bell seeking comment. Both an attorney for AAU coach Curtis Malone and Malone himself vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
"The allegations of impropriety against Mr. Malone are baseless as a matter of law and he denies them," attorney Bill Heyman said.
A Kansas State spokesman wrote in an email to The AP that the school is aware of the lawsuit "but at this time we have no further information on which to comment." The allegations were first reported by The Washington Post.
The lawsuit states that Beasley grew up in a poor, single-parent household in the Washington, D.C., area and often struggled with behavioral and academic issues, which led to him attending six high schools in five years. But he also quickly grew into one of the most promising schoolboy players in the country, teaming up with friend Kevin Durant on a formidable AAU team.
When that team folded, Malone invited Beasley to join his D.C. Assault team. The lawsuit said that Beasley's mother, Fatima Smith, did not have the money to pay for her son to play. But Malone told Smith that adidas sponsored his team and she would not have to pay for Beasley to join or any trips being taken.
Malone and Beasley developed a close relationship, with the coach taking the player into his home to let him live with him for five years before college, the lawsuit says.
All the while, the lawsuit alleges, Bell was giving Malone's team financial support in the hopes that Malone would steer his best players to the agent for representation if they ever needed it. When Smith needed legal representation for driving with a suspended license in 2003, she said Malone connected her with Bell, who met with the two of them and then handed Malone an envelope filled with $2,500 in cash to give to Smith.
"DC Assault has always been more than just basketball to me and the children that participate are family," Malone said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "My goal when creating DC Assault was to provide these children an opportunity to do something better with their lives on and off the court and that still is the case. I believe this case will ultimately be thrown out of court, because its premise is baseless. This will not stop me from continuing the mission of the DC Assault."
Beasley headed to Kansas State in 2007, where Smith alleges that Bell called her to inquire about her rent and car payments and "told her they would be taken care of, and they were. Ms. Smith never made a rent or car payment entire freshman year as a player at Kansas State," the lawsuit said.
Beasley was unaware of the financial help his mother was receiving and did not become aware of it until after he signed a contract to be represented by Bell, the lawsuit states.
Beasley was drafted second overall by the Miami Heat in 2008 and didn't find out about his mother allegedly receiving money from Bell and Malone until about three months later.
The lawsuit said Beasley felt "betrayed" by the men and immediately fired Bell. He later hired a new agent, signed his contract with the Heat and inked an endorsement deal with adidas, one that Bell claims was nearly identical to the deal he had set up for Beasley before he was fired.
Bell claims Beasley fired him to avoid paying the commission on the deal and he filed suit for wrongful termination in January.