Christian Laettner and Brian Davis were excellent college basketball players. But they appear to be terrible businessmen. After winning two national championships at Duke, Laettner and Davis started a real estate company called Blue Devil Ventures. Things went well at first. By 2006, however, Laettner and Davis were in major money trouble. That's when the litigation started, as the Wall Street Journal reports.
First, Scottie Pippen sued Laettner and Davis after a bid by the former Duke players to buy the Memphis Grizzlies imploded because of insufficient funding. Pippen helped finance the bid but never got his money back. A judge ruled last August that Laettner and Davis owed Pippen $2.55 million. Pippen still hasn't gotten his money back.
Laettner and Davis were later sued by Fannie Mae, Chevron Inc., and a Duke law professor for the same reason—failure to repay loans. Laettner and Davis had by then expanded their business to other cities and without their original partner, Tom Niemann, a Duke business school grad who favored a conservative approach. At one point, this clash in philosophy led to a tense lunch meeting that ended, according to the Wall Street Journal, with "Davis lifting the 5-foot-8 Niemann off the ground."
Shawne Merriman was another lender who was never repaid. A federal judge ruled in January that Laettner and Davis had to pay Merriman $3.7 million. All told, Laettner and Davis are now fending off lawsuits seeking repayment of loans worth about $30 million. The saddest of all these might be the one brought by Johnny Dawkins, the former Duke captain. Last year, the judge in that case ordered Laettner, Davis, and a company of theirs to pay Dawkins $671,309.
Laettner and Davis say they don't have the scratch. But they could always borrow money from someone else to cover. Might I suggest Vinny Four Fingers at the clam house?