Ice Cube, Kwatinetz Sue Big3 Investors For $1.2 Billion

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for BIG3

Entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz (L) and Ice Cube attend a press conference announcing the launch of the BIG3, a new, professional 3-on-3 basketball league, on January 11, 2017 in New York City.

 Ice Cube and his longtime manager, Jeff Kwatinetz, founders of the Big3 basketball league, are suing early investors who allegedly claimed to be connected to the Qatar Investment Authority, but did not pay the full amount promised and attempted to sabotage the league.

The suit, filed in Los Angeles April 5, seeks $1.2 billion in damages from individuals who claimed to be acting in the interests of the Qatar Investment Authority, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Sau Al Thani, the CEO of Authority.

The initial suit goes into great detail describing the conditions surrounding the initial investment from an individual purporting to act on behalf of the Qatar Investment Authority. Essentially, the plaintiffs claim that the initial agreement required an investment of $11.5 million initially and $9 million in sponsorship over three years, but that the defendants paid only $6.5 million initially and $1 million later.

When pressed about the non-payment, Kwatinetz and Cube claim that the defendants actively tried to create disunity between players and management in an effort to gain more influence within the league. The plaintiffs claim the defendants bribed and compromised former Big3 employees with favors, free trips and investment in unrelated projects and attempted to use these connections to sow discord in the company ranks.

The suit also claims that the defendants deliberately spread misinformation about Kwatinetz’s purported use of a racial slur to damage the company’s public image and its relationship with players.

The total amount of damages amounts to approximately $20 million per Big3 player for defamation, libel and intentional interference with contractual relations.

The suit was filed by Geragos & Geragos, which makes sense as Kwatinetz, a Harvard-educated attorney, was reportedly leaving hisposition with The Firm to work with lawyer Mark Geragos. In October he settled a lawsuit with former client Five Finger Death Punch. He also sued hisformer company, Prospect Park, over a non-compete clause in 2013.

Pollstar received the following statement from the Qatar Investment Authority.

“This article includes a number of allegations that are unfounded and incorrect. Among others, neither the Qatar Investment Authority nor its CEO are investors in, nor have they had any involvement with, Big3.”

This article was updated April 12 to include the statement from the Qatar Investment Authority. The opening paragraph was also modified to make clear that the suit alleges the majority of the defendants claimed to be acting in the interests of the QIA.