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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Full-Court Press: Flamboyant Former Warrior World B. Free Sues Nike

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2009 at 2:59 PM

click to enlarge Don't name your shoes after this man without asking him first
  • Don't name your shoes after this man without asking him first
As a scintillating scorer with the Golden State Warriors and four other NBA teams, World B. Free was no stranger to knocking down seemingly impossible shots in the face of swarming defenders. Well, it's an apt metaphor for the retired basketball star's latest endeavor -- suing Nike, a company with more influence and resources than many developing nations.

It's a move that may not please Free's current employers -- the Philadelphia 76ers, who have enlisted their onetime draft pick as an "Ambassador of Basketball," whatever the hell that is. For a team's official ambassador to sue Nike is somewhat akin to the American ambassador to Ireland initiating legal action against Guinness.

Free -- who was born Loyd B. Free, but legally adopted his playground nickname -- claims Nike's "World B. Free Old School basketball sneaker" was created without his consent, and also names the shoe-centric Web site in his suit.

It was on Sole Collector that Free read in March about how he was to have a shoe named after him:   

Continuing the trend of honoring some of the best hoops players from

decades past, Nike will soon be dropping this limited edition 'World B. Free

Nike Blazer at the House Of Hoops, paying tribute to the 6′2″ scorer

that played for teams including the 76ers, Warriors and Cavaliers.

Taking notes from Free's colorful and flamboyant personality, the

Blazer's upper features tie-dyed canvas tying back to World's loving

and peaceful outlook on life.

You can see a cached version of the page, since taken down, here. The pending release of the tie-died shoe below was news to Free, who claims he never authorized the use of his name or likeness.

click to enlarge worldblzr1b1.jpg

Free charges that Nike "knowingly, intentionally, and fraudulently" used his likeness; he's asking for compensatory damages, special damages, punitive damages, compensation for lost earning and future earning, his attorney's fees, and any other rewards the court sees fit to give.

Maybe he'd be less upset if his namesake wasn't such an ugly shoe.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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