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Saints' Bush gets bad news on two fronts

Knee injury may sideline him for a game or longer, and new book alleges he got extra benefits at USC.

December 08, 2007|David Wharton | Times Staff Writer

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush was the subject of bad news on and off the field Friday, with a report that he has suffered a knee injury and the announcement of an upcoming book that claims to detail improper benefits he allegedly received while playing at USC.

Bush partially tore a ligament in his left knee, which will not require surgery but could keep him out of Monday night's game against the Atlanta Falcons, if not longer, Saints Coach Sean Payton said.

"We'll monitor where he's at," Payton told reporters after Friday's practice.

In the meantime, a spokeswoman for Pocket Books said that "Tarnished Heisman," due out Jan. 15, will include transcripts of a recorded conversation in which Bush allegedly acknowledges owing money to a pair of would-be San Diego sports marketers.

Bush has been the subject of a civil lawsuit and an NCAA investigation arising from his relationship with Michael Michaels and Lloyd Lake, the founders of New Era Sports & Entertainment, who hoped to establish an agency with the star player as its first client.

New Era never got going because Bush signed with Santa Monica-based agent Mike Ornstein, whom he has since fired.

Michaels and Lake have alleged that they gave cash and gifts to Bush and his family during a period that spanned from 2004 to 2005.

They have claimed that Bush's stepfather, mother and brother lived in a home owned by Michaels but did not pay the agreed-upon rent.

The NCAA has interviewed Lake and others for an investigation into whether Bush took improper gifts. USC could be forced to forfeit victories from those two seasons and Bush could have his 2005 Heisman Trophy taken away.

Bush has repeatedly said that neither he nor his family did anything wrong. He reached an out-of-court settlement with Michaels last spring but is being sued by Lake.

Paul Wong and Brian Watkins, the attorneys for Lake, said their client agreed to cooperate with authors Don Yaeger and Jim Henry because he was angry about comments made by Bush and his attorney, David Cornwell.

Bush and Cornwell have claimed that Bush is a victim of extortion. Cornwell has questioned the credibility of Lake, who is a convicted felon.

"This was an opportunity to demonstrate the falsity of Reggie Bush's and his attorney's statements," Wong said.

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david.wharton@latimes.com

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