A South Beach bling king from Ohio might be partly to blame for the Heatles break up, and for not only LeBron James going back to Cleveland, but also Mike Miller and James Jones joining the Cavaliers as well.
Haider Zafar of Ohio, who allegedly conned Miller, Jones and Rashard Lewis out of millions in 2013, is expected to plead guilty to multiple wire fraud charges, according to court documents filed on Wednesday in Columbus, Ohio. The Heat amnestied Miller in 2013, but not before a Heat employee introduced Miller, Jones and Lewis to Zafar, who then swindled them to the tune of $7.5 million, according to a grand jury indictment.
So what does this have to do with LeBron going back to Cleveland? Well, let's just say the whole mess didn't help Miami's chances of keeping last year's team together.
It's well known at this point that the Heat angered LeBron by amnestying Miller not long after Miller helped the Heat repeat as NBA champions in 2013. Miller said earlier this week in Cleveland that LeBron thought the move "was an unnecessary change." That's Miller being nice, of course. Really what probably made LeBron most angry is that the Heat amnestied one of his best friends to save money and then squabbled with Miller over money a South Beach bling king stole from Miller and then, in an odd twist, gave to the Heat.
It's a bizarre tale, and one that certainly infuriates Miller, Jones and Lewis. It's probably not a coincidence then that all three of those players no longer play for the Heat.
The alleged con man, Zafar, posed as a successful businessman in 2013, and promised to invest money for the three former Heat players. Instead, he took the money and purchased a package of floor seats to Heat games for $1 million. In Miami, the term "South Beach bling king" is used to describe what everyone else in the country would simply call "the biggest d-bag imaginable on Planet Earth." Bling kings rent Ferraris and Lamborghinis, throw money around nightclubs, text on 95, drink Moet Chandon, race boats through manatee zones, and, when the Heat was going to The Finals every year, all the bling kings tried to be seen courtside at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Well, apparently at least one former Heat executive couldn't resist all that damn charm.
Stephen Weber, who used to be the Heat's executive vice president of sales, was just a smitten kitten for Zafar and his liberal consumption of Moet Chandon out of plastic flutes at Heat games. And what sales executive wouldn't love that guy? Guys who blow large sums of cash are good for business, right?
So, Zafar wanted to meet some Heat players and pull the ol' Nigerian prince bit. Weber set up the meetings between Zafar and Heat players, and apparently vouched for Zafar as well. According to Miller's attorney at the time, Weber told Miller that Zafar "was the real deal."
Of course, when lawyers get involved, stuff gets ugly. Long after Miller, Jones and Lewis figured out the game, Miller's attorney leaked news that Miller was thinking about suing the Heat. Zafar used $700,000 of Miller's money to buy the tickets and Miller wanted the Heat to give the money back. When the Heat and Miller couldn't agree on a settlement, tensions frayed even further.
LeBron, of course, knew about all of this last season.