Dwyane Wade hit Chicago in February for his divorce proceedings. (Keith Hale~Sun-Times)
Chicago-native and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is suing his former business partner, Richard von Houtman, for $100 million over accusations of drug and steroid use.
The focus of the lawsuit, filed May 28 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, is two e-mails it said von Houtman sent to Heat President Pat Riley accusing 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 email says.
It's been a litigious year for the All-Star, who sued his estranged wife, Siohvaughn, and her lawyers in February during divorce proceedings over allegations that he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease in an extramarital affair.
Then there was the back-and-forth lawsuits over a never-opened restaurant with Wade and his former business partners blaming eachother for its failure and lack of promotion.
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 most valuable player of the 2006 NBA Finals when the Heat won their only championship and this year topped the NBA in regular-season scoring average at just over 30 points per game.