Judge to Dismiss Christian Laettner’s Involuntary Bankruptcy Case


A federal judge has agreed to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy case filed against former college and pro basketball star Christian Laettner as soon as the signatures on his repayment agreement with creditors are collected. Mr. Laettner is shown at a NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball 75th anniversary news conference in 2013. Photo: Associated Press

A federal judge agreed to dismiss the involuntary bankruptcy case filed against Duke University basketball legend Christian Laettner, who reached a repayment deal that his lawyer said should bring a decade of financial troubles to a close.

From her courtroom on Thursday, Judge Lena James said she would sign an order dismissing the case once the final signatures on the repayment deal are collected. Mr. Laettner struck that deal with investors in a North Carolina tobacco warehouse redevelopment project, including former teammates Johnny Dawkins and Scottie Pippen, after several investors tried to force him into chapter 7 protection earlier this year.

“Once I have the consent on record, I’ll dismiss the case,” Judge James said.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed in documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Durham, N.C.

The deal divides roughly $10 million in proceeds from Durham, N.C.,’s West Village project among investors including former Duke University teammate Mr. Dawkins and former 1992 Olympic “Dream Team” teammate Mr. Pippen. The investors also include a company controlled by Glen Taylor, owner of the National Basketball Association’s Minnesota Timberwolves, where Mr. Laettner spent much of his professional career.

The settlement should mark an end to Mr. Laettner’s years of repaying investors in his real-estate projects across the country, which he has said in court filings were waylaid by the 2008 financial crisis. At the height of the downturn, Mr. Laettner faced more than $30 million in debt. He has since reached deals to repay some of what he owes investors and banks.

After the crisis hit, the West Village project was sold off in pieces.

Mr. Laettner led Duke to back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992, and his winning shot with two seconds remaining in overtime against the University of Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament ranks as one of the great moments in college basketball history. But Mr. Laettner is a polarizing figure, featured in last year’s ESPN documentary “I Hate Christian Laettner” as a player with an unapologetic brashness the filmmakers said could make him seem like the “Blue Devil Himself.”

Mr. Laettner remained popular in Durham, however, and his most successful real-estate project was his first, a refurbishment of abandoned tobacco warehouses a few blocks from Duke’s campus. Mr. Laettner personally guaranteed most of the investments and loans in the project.

Write to Katy Stech at katherine.stech@wsj.com

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