Raptors' Davis files $50M suit
Player: Ex-strip club manager's testimony 'malicious lies'
Updated: Tuesday June 19, 2001 8:12 PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Toronto Raptors star Antonio Davis filed a $50 million lawsuit Wednesday against the former manager of an Atlanta strip club that is the focus of a federal racketeering trial featuring tales of sex for top athletes.
Davis said statements by Thomas "Ziggy" Sicignano that he was among several athletes the former manager of the Gold Club arranged for dancers to have sex with were "malicious lies."
"They have been hurtful to me, my wife and my family," Davis said Wednesday during a news conference at the National Basketball Players Association offices.
The suit, filed in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., and assigned to U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie, claims defamation and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Gary Hall, Davis' lawyer, said the lawsuit was filed in New York because Sicignano made the same accusations "outside the venue of testifying." Hall claims Sicignano made the remarks to friends, the media and other players in Georgia and New York.
Sicignano lives in New York and operates Brooklyn USA, a youth basketball program.
In testimony in Atlanta last week, Sicignano said Gold Club owner Steve Kaplan paid dancers to put on a sex show and then have sex with former New York Knicks Patrick Ewing and John Starks; Reggie Miller and Davis, then of the Indiana Pacers; and outfielder Andruw Jones of the Atlanta Braves, all in 1997.
Davis, who moved to the Raptors in 1999, has said he visited the club once -- "it had to be my first year in the league [1993-94]" -- but does not recall meeting Sicignano.
"I visited there early in my career -- I might have met him," said Davis, also accompanied by his wife, Kendra, and his agent, Bill Duffy. "If he was in this room, I wouldn't know him."
Davis, married for seven years and the father of two children, said he is speaking out because "it's important for me to fight for my reputation. I can't sit back and let this happen."
Kaplan and six associates are charged in what the government calls a massive conspiracy. Prosecutors say they cheated patrons, funneled money to the Gambino crime family and pimped club dancers to celebrity customers.