Inside The Basketball Black Market That Put Adidas In The FBI’s Crosshairs

by MR Magazine Staff

Black banners embossed with the familiar white, three-stripe Adidas logo draped the banquet room of the SLS Las Vegas resort one morning in late January 2017. Adidas had flown managers of its more than 40 youth basketball teams to Las Vegas to discuss, among other things, upcoming recruiting battles with Nike and Under Armour. The morning began with a presentation by NCAA staffers, who explained their efforts to keep teenagers in shoe-company leagues from breaking NCAA rules, which included a short video urging youngsters to never take money for their athletic talents. A few minutes after the NCAA officials left, Chris Rivers, Adidas executive in charge of youth basketball, explained to the new faces in the room why a German apparel company spends millions of dollars on what the industry calls “grass roots.”“The only [expletive] reason we’re here is for pro prospects,” Rivers said, according to three people in the room who requested anonymity. “We are here to sign professional athletes.” Eight months later, Rivers watched with bewilderment as FBI agents swarmed the suburban Portland, Ore., home of his boss, and neighbor, Adidas executive Jim Gatto. In South Carolina, agents led one of Rivers’s consultants away in handcuffs. Read more at The Washington Post.