There is no doubt that Lebron James is the best NBA player of this generation. The ‘King’ has become most celebrated athlete in the association and in all sports, by winning multiple individual and team accomplishments. He is the only active NBA player ever to become a billionaire.
However, his impact doesn’t end in the basketball court, he has empowered NBA players, by his own experiences, but also by creating an empire constructed of media, sports consulting and sports agents.
One of his closest advisers is his partner and longtime friend Rich Paul. For many, Paul is a man of the people, supporting and advising African American players to get the best deal for their careers, but for others, particularly NBA Executives he is simply a man with an agenda.
Rich Paul funded Klutch Sports in 2012, and has a long list of clients that include Ben Simmons, Anthony Davis and John Wall among others. He orchestrated a deal that brought Davis from New Orleans to L.A to join his other client and main partner Lebron James. In the process, James won his fourth Championship and cemented his legacy as one of the best of all time.
The ethics of the deal continues to be in question, not because any of the legalities, both teams signed and agreed, Davis eventually signed a new contract with the Lakers and we know that the rest is history. It ‘s what is in the root of the negotiation, a small market team ‘bullied’ by a sports agent in hopes of landing a centerpiece for the Lakers. Paul is not the first agent to force a trade for his client, but the optics of the whole deal created an aura of speculation surrounding the sports agency and his methods of operating.
As I write this post, we are seeing something similar developing in Philadelphia and Houston. Ben Simmons wants out of Philly, and Wall out of Houston, both clients of Paul. The front offices are dealing with both cases slightly different, with Simmons being the most aggressive in his pursuit.
Logic tell us that sports agents should be looking for the best interest of his clients. In the Simmons case, that seems to signal the contrary. The image that Simmons has created for himself in this whole case is that of an unprofessional, disloyal and ungrateful player. Who knows how that saga will end, but NBA teams are looking very closely at particular situation.
It is worth mentioning that former clients of Paul, Narlens Noel and Marcus Morris accused Paul of not looking for their best interest when it came to signing the best deals possible. Both of those players parted ways with with Klutch Sports.
In the meantime Rich Paul and his partners, including Lebron James are getting more powerful by signing not only NBA players, but also players from the NFL and other major sports leagues.
In the NBA, Klutch sports can potentially have a portfolio of players who can decide to join a team in the hopes of playing together and creating a super team. We all know Lebron James is in the twilight of his career, and will be retiring soon. But his influence in the league will continue to have an impact pending the success of Klutch Sports.