The latest power play from Rich Paul and Klutch Sports has yet again triggered grumbles from the agent’s rivals.
This time, it was a pro day organized by Paul for clients including potential top pick Anthony Edwards and Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey on Thursday. The whole spectacle was nationally televised on ESPN2, and had some notable guests.
In attendance at the Sports Academy in Los Angeles were Klutch clients LeBron James and Anthony Davis, as well as Draymond Green, Tristan Thompson, Trae Young and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.
Here’s how the other agents watching reacted the set-up, which wasn’t sanctioned by the NBA, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post:
According to a source, some agents were unhappy with the setup, feeling it was unwarranted exposure for Paul’s clients, but the NBA let it go on.
So the agents are apparently unhappy that an NBA agent is ... getting more exposure for his clients than they deserve. Sure.
It didn’t take for Paul to fire back at his anonymous critics.
Rich Paul responds to NBA agent rivals
Anonymously United with Love!! I want to thank everyone for their support last night. It’s not often you see support like this for these young men coming into the league. This is much bigger than makes and misses! When black it’s discredited, it’s critiqued, narratives are driven. It’s a shock when the black athlete isn’t making the black agent work for free, or feel as if it’s a privilege to represent them but instead respect their practice and expertise. Why? When is the other way around, the athlete should be lucky to have the agent and every move is genius. Why? Discouragement has killed more people than guns, but it won’t work here. These men are more than athletes, and I couldn’t be more proud to work with them . The old narratives won’t work. Young kids, this picture is what kicking discouragements ass looks like! Keep believing in yourselves, it will happen for you! #tmc🏁 #BuiltDifferent #Klutch
A post shared by Rich Paul (@richpaul) on
“When black it’s discredited, it’s critiqued, narratives are driven.,” Paul wrote. “It’s a shock when the black athlete isn’t making the black agent work for free, or feel as if it’s a privilege to represent them but instead respect their practice and expertise. Why?”
Paul’s origin story of going from selling jerseys out of his car to representing the best basketball player of a generation has long drawn its mockery and bitterness, the latter much more than the former these days as Paul continues to sign big-name clients.
The biggest of those clients, and the man often pointed to as the singular reason for Paul’s success, backed up Paul.
“FACTS!!!!! Say it again and louder for the people in the back. You know what, no need to repeat yourself!!! #Klutch #RollWithUsorGetRolledOver,” James commented on Paul’s post.
The previous week had also seen complaints about Paul and James’ set-up, with a rival agent — again anonymously — questioning the legality of James’ support for Paul in The Athletic:
“The worst thing that LeBron is doing is forcing this power with Rich Paul and what that is, in terms of, he’s a player, but he has prowess in the media space. His company Spring Hill, that’s awesome. Doing the movies and all of the projects. That’s so commendable. I love that. But now that they’ve jumped into the agent game, which the reality is, it’s illegal for a player, particularly if you’re in the state of California, to be licensed to represent talent.
“Now I know it’s this façade that it’s Rich Paul, but it’s really LeBron who recruits for Rich Paul. So it’s almost like they’re trying to control AAU at the NBA level. This is my AAU team and they’ve carried that to the highest level. And because of his power and his prowess, people, the young players are seduced by LeBron James in the same way people were seduced by Michael Jordan with David Falk. He went from having Michael Jordan and a few other players, to getting the top players in the NBA, because of the Jordan factor. Rob Pelinka had tremendous success as an independent agent because he had Kobe Bryant and the players idolized him. So, the fact that LeBron recruits and has empowered Rich Paul, and I get it, on the top guys, but if someone does their research, a lot of these guys have really gotten screwed, a large number of them, by mismanagement.
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