CHICAGO (CN) – Former Chicago Bulls star Ben Gordon owes nothing to his former financial advisers for breach of contract, a federal judge ruled.
Gordon, a rising star with the Chicago Bulls from 2004-07, was the only rookie to ever win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award for coming off the bench as a substitute. Nicknamed “Heir Gordon” after being drafted third overall, just like Michael “Air” Jordan 20 years earlier, Gordon now plays for the Detroit Pistons.
When Gordon was drafted by the Bulls, he signed a contract with Larry Harmon & Associates to provide financial services for the “duration of his playing career,” the judgment said. The contract provided that Gordon would pay Harmon each month for the duration of his rookie contract. After these three years, it stipulated that the parties would evaluate the “amount of work” performed by Harmon and discuss a new fee structure.
In May 2006, Harmon unilaterally informed Gordon that “the flat monthly payments would be replaced by a new percentage-based fee amounting to 1.5% of Gordon’s annual income,” the judgment said.
Gordon terminated his contract with Harmon in July 2007, before the end of his rookie contract.
Harmon filed suit in March 2010 for breach of contract, claiming $1.2 million in damages.
Gordon countered that he was entitled to terminate the agreement in July 2007 because he lost trust in Harmon when Harmon unilaterally changed the fee structure.
U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras granted Gordon’s motion for summary judgment, finding that the contract remained in effect only until the end of Gordon’s rookie season, not for the entire length of his career as Harmon had contended.
“The friction that developed between Gordon and Harmon during the course of the original agreement militated against a set of terms compatible with the parties’ desires and objectives,” Kocoras wrote.
“These events suggest that Gordon was not of a mind to reengage with Harmon to deal with his professional financial affairs in the future,” he added.
Harmon also cannot claim “that the percentage fee he was collecting under the 2004 contract would apply for the duration of Gordon’s professional career,” the judge ruled.
In his own deposition testimony, Harmon had said that “a new contract would have to be executed by the parties after negotiations were had,” according to the decision.
“Attempts by Harmon to recant his sworn deposition testimony by a supplemental affidavit are ineffectual,” Kocoras said.
The 2004 contract was predicated on various events happening that never came to pass. “There was never a new contract discussion, no material terms such as services to be rendered, fees to be paid, or term of contract agreed upon or resolved,” Kocoras wrote. “When the May 17, 2004 contract was signed, it was the contemplation of all the parties that these things would take place. Accordingly, the parties’ mutual rights and obligations terminated upon completion of Gordon’s fourth season as a professional basketball player.”