For Lust of the Game
Dan Lust talks sports law like a sports fan
Published in 2022 New York Metro Super Lawyers magazine on September 27, 2022
Dan Lust was the kind of kid who handed out NCAA Tournament brackets to his friends whenever March Madness rolled around. In Westchester, he was a fan of the New York Knicks, Rangers, and football Giants, as well as the San Francisco Giants, whom his father had rooted for when the team was in New York. Lust played, too, particularly soccer and baseball, but …
“I was never good enough to play at a collegiate level,” says the 34-year-old sports litigator at Geragos & Geragos. “But I was good enough to win all of my fantasy leagues.”
And he liked being around it. At Union College, he interned with the New York Giants PR department during summers and realized that most of the high-level employees in the sports landscape had a J.D., MBA, or a degree in analytics.
Lust went with the J.D. At Fordham, he became president of the Sports Law Forum while working the Giants press box at home games. He interned at SFX Baseball, an agency that represented David Ortiz and Justin Verlander, and spent his third year employed at Excalibur Sports, a firm specializing in baseball salary arbitration cases. With a job lined up at SFX after graduation, Lust seemed set to do exactly what he wanted to.
Then SFX was acquired by another company, Lust’s job fell through, and instead of working in baseball he found himself representing police, firefighters and EMTs before moving to an insurance defense firm. “It was six years of pure, pure litigation,” Lust recalls.
And it was that experience—the one he didn’t want—that turned Lust into a lawyer. “I went to law school thinking that I needed to be around sports,” Lust says, “[but] I learned to love the law independent of anything related to sports. Being a lawyer without any bells and whistles was just fine.”
And then the bells and whistles returned. At Goldberg Segalla, the firm encouraged attorneys to become experts in specific areas of interest, so Lust began researching various sports law issues. And in 2019, Lust was watching Game 5 of the NBA Finals when Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant—who would become a free agent after the season—came back after sitting out the entire series with a calf injury; he wound up tearing his Achilles tendon in the second quarter.
“I remember thinking, as a lawyer, ‘I don’t know why he’s playing in this game,’” Lust says.
Given that an Achilles tear was a potentially career-ending injury, and knowing that a team doctor must have cleared him to play, Lust began to research what a medical malpractice suit against the Warriors might look like.
“He’s making approximately $100 million a year on and off the court, and if you’re taking 10 years off his career it’s probably close to a billion,” Lust says. “Let’s call it ‘The Anatomy of a Billion Dollar Lawsuit’ if Durant sues the Warriors.”
At this point everything was theoretical. Lust did his research, wrote an article for the firm’s blog, and figured that would be the end of it—only to find himself inundated with interview requests from sports radio shows across the country. He enjoyed the ride but figured that might be his 15 minutes; but his ability to speak authoritatively and entertainingly made him stand out, and he was asked back to discuss matters involving the intersection of sports and law. He’s now a frequent guest on MSG Network, Fox Business and Fox 5.
Lust also co-hosts Conduct Detrimental, a sports law podcast, with Dan Wallach, who says most lawyers in Lust’s situation go on the radio or television and wind up sounding like, well, lawyers. Lust, he says, is able to “thread the needle of being lawyerly without sounding like a lawyer. He’s able to break it down and put it in a way that lawyers and non-lawyers can understand with the same level of sophistication. That’s a talent.
“Most importantly,” Wallach adds, “he doesn’t have one iota of shyness about him. You need that. You can’t be afraid.”