NBA star LeBron James and rappers Drake and Future have been accused of stealing the “intellectual property rights” to the movie “Black Ice,” which is based on the formerly segregated hockey league for black players in Canada. Billy Hunter, a former federal prosecutor and longtime leader of the NBA Players Association, filed an explosive lawsuit in Manhattan state supreme court alleging he has the sole legal right to produce any movie about the Colored Hockey League, which existed from 1895 to the 1930s. Hunter is demanding $10 million in damages and a share of the documentary’s profits.
The suit, filed by Hunter’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, states that “While the defendants LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter [LeBron’s business partner] are internationally known and renowned in their respective fields of basketball and music, it does not afford them the right to steal another’s intellectual property.” In the lawsuit, Hunter accuses the defendants and their entertainment companies of making a deal with the authors of the highly regarded book “Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925” behind his back.
Authors George and Darril Fosty are also named as defendants for allegedly breaking the terms of the agreement granting Hunter the exclusive right to make a film about the black hockey league. According to the lawsuit, Hunter paid the writers $265,000 for the story’s film adaptation rights. The documentary is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 10.
Additionally, the complaint names James’ entertainment companies, The Springhill Company and Uninterrupted Canada, and Drake and Future’s entertainment company Dreamcrew Entertainment as defendants. First Take Entertainment and Fostys’ publishing firm are also named as defendants.