Former NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal, known for his decorated basketball career and various endorsements, is now facing a legal battle over his involvement in a Solana-based NFT project called Astrals. These allegations have raised questions about Shaq’s role and the potential violations of securities laws in connection with this crypto venture.
In a federal class-action lawsuit filed against Shaquille O’Neal at the Southern District of Florida Miami Division, it is claimed that he played an active role in the Astrals NFT project before seemingly abandoning it. The lawsuit claims that the former NBA player’s endorsement and involvement were instrumental in driving the project’s value.
The project consisted of 10,000 metaverse-ready avatars tied to a DAO and a play-to-earn role-playing game according to the court filing. Additionally, the lawsuit questions the status of the project’s governance token, $GLXY, suggesting it may be an unregistered security.
The Lawsuit’s Progress
The legal battle took a significant step forward when a district judge in Florida appointed lead plaintiffs represented by The Moskowitz Law Firm. This appointment authorized them to represent all investors in the case.
Managing Partner Adam Moskowitz, who is involved in several other crypto-related class-action lawsuits, stated that the amended complaint filed against O’Neal provides a more comprehensive view of his involvement in Astrals. This includes evidence like now-deleted videos and tweets gathered from sources like archive.org based on a Decrypt report.
The complaint also alleges that the retired athlete was in regular contact with Astral team members.
Disappearance of Shaquille O’Neal from Astrals
A crucial point in the case is O’Neal’s apparent disappearance from the Astrals community. This disappearance occurred not long after the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which O’Neal had endorsed previously.
The lawsuit contends that O’Neal’s celebrity status was closely tied to Astrals’ value, making his exit particularly impactful. However, there is a curious twist in the tale — O’Neal’s final post in the Astrals Discord community featured a GIF from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” with the phrase “I’m not leaving.”
Venture Capital Firms in the Mix
Moreover, the lawsuit involves two large venture capital firms, Cypher Capital and MH Ventures. The mentioned entities allegedly struck partnerships with Astrals and subsequently traded $GLXY tokens.
While the said firms are not listed as defendants, they are expected to be served with third-party subpoenas as the lawsuit progresses. Their involvement adds another layer of complexity to the case.
Shaquille O’Neal’s Defense
In July, Shaq’s legal team attempted to have the class-action lawsuit dismissed by arguing that the digital assets in question were intended for gamers and not investors. However, this motion was denied last month by the district judge overseeing the case.
As a result, O’Neal has until September 29 to respond to the amended complaint filed against him.
The allegations against Shaquille O’Neal regarding his involvement in the Astrals NFT project and its subsequent collapse have brought him into a legal battle that could have significant implications. The lawsuit raises questions about the intersection of celebrity endorsements, cryptocurrency projects, and securities laws.
As the case progresses, it remains to be seen how O’Neal and the other parties involved will address these allegations in their defense.