Rich Paul, founder of Klutch Sports and LeBron James rep Anthony Davis and Jusuf Nurkic of the Portland Trail Blazers, detailed his approach to player empowerment in a recent article by Isaac Chotiner from the New Yorker who examined his own rise to power in the league. For Paul, empowering his clients is a key priority.
“You’re always going to have people who won’t be okay with what you’re doing, but at the end of the day they can’t stop you, and can’t stop your way, and can’t stop your journey. . I’m glad I was able to fall on the sword so that the rest of these athletes, men and women, could feel empowered.
However, as Chotiner notes, this player empowerment is “inextricably linked to race” in a league like the NBA, where players are predominantly black. This empowerment, he notes, can have drawbacks for gamers as well.
But empowering players has drawbacks. In a league of thirty teams, the superstars congregate in New York and Los Angeles, as well as a few other major markets – Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco – making it harder to compete for teams from other cities. . “Empowering players is a trap for the fact that the league has done a terrible job of empowering teams,” a current NBA general manager told me. “The players have all the weight in every situation. I think this is the worst thing that has happened to professional sports at all levels. Bomani Jones, an ESPN sports reporter, framed the question differently: “The NBA has a problem, it’s that they have bad real estate. They put a lot of teams in places that young black men don’t necessarily want to live.
While racism is everywhere, there are certainly some markets within the league where it is more rampant than others.
Paul notes in the article that he only represents one white player, Jusuf Nurkic, while discussing what it means to represent black athletes.
During our conversations, Paul kept coming back to how the black community saw its role. “We leave us with the impression that when you walk into a room, if you see more black people in the room, you are in the wrong room. No, you are in the right room. This mentality years ago, we have to change that, ”he said.
Draymond Green, a star striker for the Golden State Warriors and a Klutch client, told me he agreed with Paul’s assessment: “We always thought that for African-American players the best person to represent us was not ours.”
At the same time, Paul said: “It’s very difficult for me to represent a white player.” I expressed my surprise that this is the case.
“That’s right. Look around you. There are very few,” he said. “I represent a player from Bosnia. But, again, he’s international. He looks at it differently.
Paul concludes by stating that white players don’t want a black agent because of America’s racist history.
There is no doubt that agents like Rich Paul have contributed to the continued evolution of the league. Empowering players allows the league to build on player-led social justice initiatives, and while there are certainly downsides, the balance is changing.
You can read the whole piece here.