MIAMI -- NBA star Dwyane Wade has sued a former business partner for $100 million, claiming the man maligned his reputation by making false allegations of illegal drug and steroid use in an e-mail to Miami Heat president Pat Riley.
Wade's lawsuit accuses Richard von Houtman of libel and slander. It also contends that von Houtman, who frequently uses the title "Baron," falsely poses as being of royal German descent because of his "own grandiose vision of himself."
The focus of the lawsuit, filed May 28 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, is two e-mails it said von Houtman sent to Riley. According to the lawsuit, von Houtman accused Wade and other unnamed Heat players in a March 15 message of smoking marijuana and using cocaine and steroids.
"Your players were caught in a hotel room smoking marijuana. From Wade to [name deleted] and the rest of the NBA players. Is it just about selling tickets?" the lawsuit quotes the e-mail as saying. It later adds, "The Miami Heat 'Drugs, Sex & Basketball.' "
The e-mail to Riley also contends that Wade is not the nice guy suggested by his public image and alludes to his messy divorce from estranged wife Siohvaughn Wade.
"Behind closed doors, Mr. Wade is a bully and a coward," the e-mail says.
Wade flatly denies the drug-use allegations in his lawsuit. Wade's representatives earlier denied claims of marijuana use and wild sex parties made by von Houtman in a separate lawsuit against the NBA star over their failed restaurant venture.
Wade's libel lawsuit contends that von Houtman's goal was "discrediting and harming Mr. Wade's personal and business reputation" by contacting Riley and then threatening to go public with his accusations.
Wade's lawsuit said an Oct. 29, 2008 e-mail to Riley, signed "Baron Richard von Houtman," is an attempt to get Riley to use his influence to reach a settlement of the restaurant dispute.
"I have been approached by numerous newspapers, magazines and media regarding the lawsuit, but have chosen to say nothing at this stage," the e-mail says. "I would like to have a sit down meeting to hopefully reach a solution to this problem."
Riley refused to meet with von Houtman and never answered his e-mail, Wade's lawsuit says.
Von Houtman, who lists a Fort Lauderdale address, did not respond Thursday to e-mail and telephone messages, nor did his attorney.
On May 15, his attorney in the restaurant lawsuit filed an emergency motion saying that Von Houtman wasn't available for a deposition because he had to fly to Great Britain to visit his sick mother.
Wade, a 6-foot-4 guard, was named MVP of the 2006 NBA Finals when the Heat won their only championship and this year topped the NBA in regular-season scoring average at a little more than 30 points per game.