In the 1990s, Michael Jordan ruled on the court, his agent David Falk ruled off it.
Falk had around 40 clients and those included most of the big names of the decade, guys like Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning. He bullied around the Players Association in the 1995 lockout, and was involved behind the scenes in the 1998 lockout negotiations. He was consistently ranked as the second most powerful man in the NBA, behind David Stern.
Other players wanted to be like Mike, and that meant it was good to be MJ’s agent.
Not so much with LeBron.
Recently soon-to-be top pick John Wall signed with BEST. Soon-to-be number two pick Evan Turner just signed up with Falk. Wall also said he is not going with LeBron’s marketing team. CBS’s Ken Berger suggests this means today’s players are trying to carve their own niche.
By spurning CAA, Wall became the third straight (Kentucky coach John) Calipari guard to break away from the agency that everyone assumed he would join. Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans both played for Calipari at Memphis, and both signed with Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group…
The best player available in the draft since LeBron himself will enter the NBA with a clean slate, and with no entanglements beyond those already entrenched within his inner circle of close advisors. In effect, Wall won’t be riding LeBron’s – or anyone else’s – coattails.
Let’s not shed a tear for CAA, they still own most of the world. But players today are more media and marketing savvy than generations before. They understand the value of carving out your own unique place in the market. They understand not wanting to be caught in the shadow of the game’s biggest star.
Be like LeBron? Not so much.