Shaquille O’Neal, the basketball legend turned TV analyst, is now embroiled in two separate lawsuits related to the cryptocurrency sector. These legal cases came to light in a dramatic fashion on Tuesday, May 23, during a live NBA broadcast.
O’Neal, a ubiquitous presence in the broader digital assets industry, was handed legal documents concerning his association with the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX and his non-fungible token (NFT) initiative, Astrals, at Miami’s Kaseya Arena. Notably, the venue was previously known as FTX Arena, named after the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange.
The two lawsuits
The first lawsuit involves O’Neal and other celebrities, such as former NFL quarterback Tom Brady, who endorsed FTX. The plaintiffs in this case, represented by The Moskowitz Law Firm and Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, accuse the defendants of promoting a financial platform that later fell into bankruptcy.
The second lawsuit focuses on O’Neal’s involvement in Astrals, an NFT project launched in 2022. The plaintiffs assert that the Astrals NFTs were unregistered securities, with the value of the tokens tied closely to O’Neal’s celebrity status and promotional efforts. The suit alleges that the project misled investors and that O’Neal, along with his son Myles and business partner Brian Bayati, violated securities laws.
Astrals, built on the Solana blockchain, features 10,000 “metaverse-ready” avatars underpinned by a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) and an engaging role-playing game. The project also advertised “Shaq Signature Passes,” a unique NFT tied to O’Neal’s digital signature.
However, the lawsuit alleges that O’Neal ceased his engagement with the project’s community after the collapse of FTX, a move that critics say devalued the project and its tokens.
The legal actions against O’Neal have been marred by alleged attempts by the basketball star to avoid service. In April, O’Neal’s lawyers contested that legal documents pertaining to the FTX lawsuit were improperly served, asserting that the papers were hurled at O’Neal’s vehicle rather than handed to him directly.
However, lawyer Adam Moskowitz of The Moskowitz Law Firm argues that these claims are merely delay tactics. In an interview with Front Office Sports, he revealed that O’Neal was served the legal papers directly during the NBA game, thus putting an end to this service-related contention.
As per the legal process, O’Neal has 20 days from the date of service to respond to the lawsuits. As the suits progress, it is clear that O’Neal’s transition from the basketball court to the court of law will be scrutinized closely, and the outcomes could have significant implications for the intersection of celebrity endorsements and the crypto industry.
Editor’s note: This article was written by an nft now staff member in collaboration with OpenAI’s GPT-4.