Shaq served in FTX suit at NBA playoff game — in former FTX Arena
That is until Tuesday night, when the Miami Heat played the Boston Celtics, a game O’Neal was covering as an analyst for TNT. The playoff game was held at the Kaseya Center — a downtown Miami stadium once named FTX Arena.
“It was a bit of poetic justice,” said Adam Moskowitz, a Florida-based attorney representing the group of investors suing celebrities who had endorsed FTX. “But at the same time, this whole saga is unnecessary and farcical — it’s not helping the case. It’s not advancing the case. It’s just delaying the case.”
The case against O’Neal and 10 other celebrities — including former NFL quarterback Tom Brady, comedian Larry David and supermodel Gisele Bündchen — has been mounting since November. That month, FTX filed for bankruptcy in a move that vaporized at least $10 billion in assets and raised questions about regulation and oversight in an industry that operates outside conventional banking rules. FTX’s founder Sam Bankman-Fried is facing multiple charges, including fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations. (Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty to the charges.)
But the class-action lawsuit Moskowitz is involved in is focused on the 11 celebrity figures who promoted FTX, appearing in flashy commercials and ads — some of which aired during the Super Bowl. Those marketing campaigns and endorsement, the suit alleges, lured “unsophisticated investors” and cost them their fortunes. And promoting those risky unregistered securities without any prior research is in violation of Florida laws protecting investors from fraud and deception, the lawsuit claims.
O’Neal’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Post. In an interview last year, the former NBA star said his involvement with FTX was limited to being “a paid spokesperson for a commercial.”
But since the FTX meltdown, Moskowitz said O’Neal went to great lengths to evade the process servers, which wound up costing the attorneys over $100,000 and led to safety concerns for the process servers, he said.
“I haven’t heard of anything like this in 30 years,” Moskowitz said. “This is a defendant who’s well-known. He’s not fleeing another island. He’s in America, and he’s on TV every day — but we can’t get near him and serve him. It’s insane.”
After process servers were unsuccessful reaching O’Neal at his homes in Texas, Georgia and Florida and the TNT studio in Atlanta, attorneys filed a motion to serve the former basketball player via social media. A judge said no.
Two process servers later tried to throw the papers at O’Neal’s moving vehicle — a move his lawyers disputed in court, claiming it ran afoul of the requirements for serving legal documents. Moskowitz said the processors met the requirements by making eye contact with O’Neal and showing him the papers.
But before a judge could rule on that motion, Moskowitz said his team had another idea. The attorney had prepared a second complaint after clients alleged they’d been scammed by another one of O’Neal’s ventures, which sold non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. When they saw O’Neal was covering the game between the Heat and Celtics, a process server sprang into action.
“We got a two-for-one deal and served him the two complaints,” Moskowitz said.
Steve Polak, co-founder of the California-based private investigation firm Sunset Blvd. Investigations, said O’Neal isn’t the only celebrity who has been difficult for process servers to reach when delivering lawsuits and court summons.
“You’ve got to remember they have security teams and adoring fans,” Polak said. “Sometimes we just have a split second to serve them, and you have to be precise.”
It’s a process that’s “equal parts James Bond and equal parts internet sleuth” Polak added — and one that “no one really wants to be a part of.”
“As much as no one likes getting served, no one likes serving,” he said. “But here’s the thing: don’t take it out on the process server, because we’re just doing our job.”