Agent accused of paying Zion Williamson's family $400K says he was conned

Jason Owens

Last week, Slavko Duric was accused in an affidavit of arranging a $400,000 payment to Zion Williamson’s family while the New Orleans Pelicans star was at Duke.

This week, he says he was the victim of a con job.

The marketing agent told Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde on Monday that he was targeted by people who represented themselves as part of Williamson’s inner circle in a scheme that cost him $100,000.

“I got intoxicated by the opportunity,” Duric said.

Duric says he was duped out of $100K

Duric claimed that a person who identified himself as an intermediary for Williamson and family friend James “Chubby” Wells offered him a percentage of Williamson’s future earnings in exchange for $100,000 in 2018. He said he was provided a copy of the agreement allegedly signed by Williamson’s family along with a copy of Williamson’s driver’s license.

He said he spoke with someone on the phone who identified himself as Williamson’s stepfather Lee Anderson and sent the money without ever meeting anybody face-to-face.

“I tried to do something I would characterize as outside the lines,” Duric told SI. “I allegedly was involved early. I was at the front of the line through a person who said he knew the family. Somebody who said he was Lee Anderson spoke with me. Someone who said they were Chubby Wells spoke with me a dozen times.”

‘Never spoken to Zion’

Duric then said after he sent the money, his contacts went missing and phone numbers were disconnected.

“I’ve been the victim of a con job by somebody acting like they were in the inner circle,” Duric said. “I have never spoken to Zion Williamson, and anybody who purported themselves as being a member of Zion’s inner circle was an impostor.

“Honestly, I am in a fog. I do know that I’m out 100 grand.”

An agent at the center of the claim that Zion Williamson was paid $400,000 while at Duke says he was the victim of a con job. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
An agent at the center of the claim that Zion Williamson was paid $400,000 while at Duke says he was the victim of a con job. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

What Duric’s accused of

Duric’s name surfaced in an affidavit filed by attorneys representing an agent suing Williamson for $100 million. Williamson left Gina Ford’s Prime Marketing Sports to sign with CAA shortly before being drafted into the NBA in 2019.

Williamson claimed in his own lawsuit that the five-year contract he signed with Ford was not legal based on North Carolina laws intended to protect amateur athletes. Ford countersued and is seeking to prove that Williamson didn’t qualify as an amateur when he signed and therefore not protected under the law. The alleged $400,000 payment would have disqualified him as an amateur when he was at Duke and when he signed with Ford.

Duric attached to alleged $400K payment

The affidavit filed last week was signed by a man named Donald Kreiss, who claims to have provided assistance to Duric’s Maximum Management Group to obtain an alleged commitment from Williamson.

“It was further my understanding that to secure the verbal commitment from Lee Anderson (who was acting on behalf of Zion Williamson and the Zion Williamson family) to have Zion sign with ‘MMG,’ Lee Anderson had demanded, and Duric paid, some $400,000 to Lee Anderson and Chubby Wells,” Kreiss wrote.

“I understood that the $400,000 to Lee Anderson and Chubby Wells was paid in the manner directed by Lee Anderson. My understanding is that Lee Anderson requested the money be wired to a bank in South Carolina, shortly after Zion started school at Duke (and that some may have been in October of 2018).”

Zion’s legal teams shoots down claim as ‘fraudulent’

Williamson’s attorneys described the claims as frivolous and called the documents cited fraudulent. The documents included an agreement allegedly signed by Williamson and an alleged copy of his driver’s license.

“The alleged ‘agreements’ and driver’s license attached to these papers are fraudulent — and neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them,” the statement reads. “We had previously alerted Ms. Ford’s lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as forgeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway.

“This is a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson at the very time he has the opportunity to live his ream of playing professional basketball.”

Duric has been accused of participating in multiple schemes involving basketball players. He told Forde on Monday that he accepted “a lot of Final Four tickets” from college coaches during a 1990s scheme involving amateur Nigerian players. He declined to identify those coaches.

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