Though the troubled real estate dealings of former Duke standouts Christian Laettner and Brian Davis have been mentioned in this space before (“Christian Laettner, Just A Little Bit Closer To Breaking Rocks In The Hot Sun”, 9/16/11), the degree to which other athletes have been victimized by the duo was detailed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal by Valerie Bauerlin and Spencer Wilking. “The timing of the economic collapse and our game plan was not good,” Davis tells the WSJ, though with Laettner currently serving as an assistant coach for the D-League’s Ft. Wayne Mad Ants (2-14 this season), I’m not sure I’d trust a game plan of any sort from these guys.
Court documents show that Laettner and Davis individually and their real-estate businesses are defendants in several civil lawsuits seeking repayment of loans worth about $30 million. The plaintiffs include sports celebrities like ex-Chicago Bull Scottie Pippen, who played with Laettner on the 1992 Olympic team. In August 2010, a state court judge in Lake County, Ill., ordered Laettner and Davis to repay Pippen $2.5 million. Through his attorney, Pippen said he had been paid half that amount and that litigation between the parties continues.
“What they have done isn’t honest—I feel cheated,” said Shawne Merriman, the three-time All-Pro Buffalo Bills linebacker who had lent money to the real-estate ventures of Laettner and Davis, which operated under a multitude of names.
In January 2011, a federal court judge in Maryland ordered Laettner and Davis to pay Merriman $3.7 million.
Laettner declined to be interviewed. Speaking on behalf of their real-estate companies, Davis said, “Me and Christian took a lot of risk.” Davis said he regretted alienating friends, particularly former Duke captain Johnny Dawkins (owed more than $670,000), whom he has known for 25 years.