This past weekend was a time of celebration for former Duke great Christian Laettner who was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame as a member of the 1992 Olympic Team (aka “The Dream Team”) even if he took the brunt of the jokes during the weekend’s festivities. Unfortunately for Laettner and his Blue Devil teammate Brian Davis, the festivities appear to be confined to that weekend as their company Blue Devil Ventures (official website is currently down) appears to have hit a prolonged rough patch after some early success. The company has invested significant sums of money in a variety of projects including several in Durham as well as making bids for the Memphis Grizzlies and an MLS team (D.C. United). Last Monday, San Diego Chargers superstar linebacker Shawne Merriman filed an affidavit regarding a suit against Blue Devil Ventures for failure to repay a loan worth $3.64 million he had given the company in 2007.
According to court documents, the loan, which was due in March 2009, was not repaid and Merriman states that he is owed the $3.64 million principal that he invested plus 10% annual interest — not a bad return for an investor between 2007 and 2010. Merriman has also asked the judge to award him a 10% interest in Blue Devil Venture projects in Atlanta, Baltimore, and Durham, and if those projects fail he would have the right to convert that interest into other Blue Devil Venture projects. If your head is hurting right now, that’s OK, because based on these reports Merriman is asking for Blue Devil Ventures to give him the following things:
- His principal of $3.64M plus 10% annual interest
- A 10% share in three of the company’s projects
- In the event that any of those projects fail, he gets to convert that 10% share into shares in other (likely more successful) projects
That, my friends, is what we call having your cake and eating it too. Unfortunately it appears that Merriman may be trying to do this with a group of destitute bankers as he is just one of many plaintiffs against the company whose troubles appear to mirror countless others after the collapse of a real estate bubble where people took on more than they could chew.
In addition to currently listed outstanding cases against Blue Devil Ventures, the group also has Chevron on its trial (market cap of slightly over $150 billion), seeking $1.5 million plus interest; and the pair also has several other business ventures (under different names) that have turned sour including one where they were ordered to pay $687,230 plus interest to Bryan Simms. Simms is a former Lehman Brothers senior vice president who left in 2007 (just in time) to join another failed venture of Laettner/Davis in what appears to otherwise be a fairly distinguished career. Based on what we have read about Laettner’s responses to questioning, it seems like the end result of all this is another LLC (not Laettner himself) declaring for bankruptcy, leaving everyone involved unsatisfied.