San Antonio Spurs great Tim Duncan may have retired recently, but he’s got some work ahead of him — or at least, his lawyer does. On July 15, Duncan filed a suit against Robert Elder of Keller Williams Realty, claiming the agent altered and posted an image of Duncan without his approval.
The photo, pulled from a project 1005 Faces by artist Sarah Brooke Lyons, shows Tim Duncan holding a sign with a short, inspirational message: “Good, Better, Best. Never let it rest until your good is better and your better is your best!”
The allegedly doctored promotional image the San Antonio agent posted to his Facebook page displays Duncan holding a frame bordering the Robert Elder Real Estate Group logo and contact information. Elder included a caption, writing, “Wow! Just WOW! TD took the time to give us some love! Thanks Tim! We love you too man!”
The altered photograph was removed and the Robert Elder Homes Facebook page has since been deactivated.
Duncan image used “with no bad intent”
Jack Hawthorne of Hawthorne Partners, PLLC, is representing Keller Williams in the case.
“Mr. Elder, with no bad intent, did use an image of Tim Duncan he didn’t own. Tim Duncan sued,” Hawthorne said. “We’re at the point where in a complicated suit, the legal team was all incredibly professional and mimicked the character we expected from Duncan — he’s a super nice guy.”
Duncan’s lawyer, Michael D. Bernard, told the San Antonio Express-News that the act was both “blatant and so shameless.”
The lawsuit claims Elder, Stefanie Graham of Keller Williams San Antonio and two anonymous individuals misappropriated Duncan’s name to capitalize on the basketball star’s recent retirement and celebrity status.
Duncan’s lawyer cold not be reached for comment.
In a prepared statement, Hawthorne wrote, “Our office is working closely and cooperating fully with Mr. Duncan’s legal team and we are in the process of resolving this matter. We are not able to comment on any pending litigation; however, we will provide a statement once the matter comes to closure.”
That statement is to be released following settlement, Hawthorne said.
Businesses using the brand of retired basketball players and getting burned for doing so is nothing new. Michael Jordan was awarded $8.9 million in August 2015 after a federal jury found the owners of a supermarket chain guilty of using his likeness in an advertisement selling steaks without his permission. Jordan, who owns a steakhouse in Chicago, pledged to donate the money to local charities.