Some bad news has rudely interrupted an otherwise stellar beginning to 2020 for LeBron James.
King James’ Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the Western Conference of the NBA (41-12), he also leads the NBA in assists, and his squad took home the trophy in the All-Star Game in Chicago. Meanwhile, he announced that he’s publishing his first children’s book, I Promise, through HarperCollins Publishers. This comes on the heels of the news his I Promise School students could get free tuition education at the University of Akron and Kent State University.
On Thursday, Feb. 20, however, the media learned that James has been sued for $33 million for alleged copyright infringement, according to 247Sports.com.
Game Plan, a youth organization, claims James illegally swiped the “More Than An Athlete” slogan for his Uninterrupted media brand. The Maryland-based youth group claims it has used the phrase since 2016 — and that it has the copyright receipts to prove it. The organization trademarked the phrase in 2018, according to 247Sports.
Moreover, the group’s lawyer claims in the court documents that James and the team he was with at the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers, saw the teens wearing the jerseys when they posed during a 2017 game against the Washington Wizards.
“The attendance at the game gave Game Plan tremendous exposure, as it was able to gain attention from John Wall in front of his peers including the (arguably) most famous athlete in the world, as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, at the time, LeBron James,” the lawsuit alleged in documents obtained by TMZ.
In fact, Game Plans says James became obsessed with the “More Than An Athlete” phrase after Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham ordered King James to refrain from remarking on sociopolitical issues and just “shut up and dribble.”
The lawsuit also names Nike, Disney and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. as defendants, according to TMZ.
For his part, James adamantly denies stealing from the youth group and issued this sharp retort: “The complaint filed by Game Plan today is meritless and contains numerous factual inaccuracies. Uninterrupted owns prior rights in and to the ‘More Than An Athlete’ trademark,” James’ legal team told TMZ.