An National Basketball Players Association certified Player Agent has sued veteran sports agency Goodwin Associates Management Enterprises (commonly referred to as Goodwin Sports) for breaching their severance agreement and allegedly inflicting emotional distress. Player Agent Muhammad Abdur-Rahim filed the Complaint in California state court, seeking $570,000 as well as exemplary and punitive damages.
Atlanta-based Abdur-Rahim, the brother of former NBA player Shareef Abdur-Rahim, worked for Goodwin Sports from May 2012 until April 2017. He claims that Goodwin Sports decided to terminate his employment in April 2017 without cause. The agreement’s term was supposed to end in August 2017.
The parties had entered into a severance agreement, which required Goodwin Sports to pay Abdur-Rahim $100,000 in five installments. Abdur-Rahim says that he received the first payment of $15,000, but that Goodwin Sports thereafter defaulted on its obligations. Another $15,000 was paid (which was $10,000 short of the amount due on that date) by Goodwin Sports, leaving a balance of $70,000 in severance pay that is past due.
Abdur-Rahim says that Goodwin Sports informed him that money would be delayed and that he would resume being paid as of January 2019. However, no more money was provided to Abdur-Rahim under the agreement.
The Complaint is also used by Abdur-Rahim to attack the credibility of Goodwin Sports as an entity for representing basketball players. He points out Goodwin Sports’ inability to retain high caliber players such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard and Al Horford, who were all once signed to the sports agency. They all left Goodwin Sports for competitors in the past.
While Abdur-Rahim’s claim for relief based on intentional infliction of emotional distress may be a stretch, it does appear that, at a minimum, he is entitled to recovering the money owed under the severance agreement. It is highly unlikely that Goodwin Sports would want to engage in litigation, and particularly a discovery process, if there is no strong defense to making payment to Abdur-Rahim under that arrangement.