LeBron James, Drake Sued for $10M by Billy Hunter over 'Black Ice' Documentary

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 5, 2022

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 18:  LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers talks to rapper Drake after the game against the Toronto Raptors on March 18, 2022 at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James and musicians Drake and Future are reportedly being sued by former National Basketball Players Association executive director Billy Hunter to the tune of $10 million in damages, according to Carl Campanile and Priscilla DeGregory of the New York Post.

Hunter is also seeking a portion of the profits from the documentary Black Ice, claiming in his lawsuit that he held the exclusive intellectual property rights to produce a film about the Colored Hockey League, which existed between 1895 and the 1930s.

"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," Hunter’s attorney, Larry Hutcher, said in the lawsuit.

The Black Ice documentary is based on the book, Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895 to 1925, written by George and Darril Fosty. Both authors were also named in the lawsuit as defendants, with Hunter alleging that they cut a deal with James and Drake behind his back after he paid $265,000 for the movie rights.

“I don't think they believed the property rights would be litigated," Hunter told the New York Post. "They thought I would go away. They gambled."

According to the lawsuit, the Frostys argued that while Hunter held the movie rights, the documentary was a separate entity that didn't fall within those rights. Hunter has argued that he paid for the "exclusive worldwide rights" to any "audiovisual" adaptation of the story.

"A documentary is still a 'motion picture' and an ‘audiovisual adaptation' and any claim to the contrary is absurd and made in bad faith," Hutcher argued in the lawsuit.

Along with James, Drake, Future, Carter and the Frostys, James' entertainment companies (The Springhill Company and Uninterrupted Canada), Drake's Dreamcrew Entertainment, the Frosty's Stryker Indigo publishing firm and First Take Entertainment were all named in the lawsuit.