Opinion: Agent Rich Paul Uses His Smarts to Land Top NBA Players

by Jim Ewers – Life is an ever-evolving classroom and we use it every day. Beginning with our rising in the morning, life holds enough mystery and intrigue to keep us moving.

Acquiring an education is a part of this robust living that we do each day. Traditional education has been around for a long time and all of us use it differently. For example, I have long held the view that having a college education in and of itself will not make you successful.

In my opinion, what makes you successful is having the right attitude, determination and character to make something good happen.

I believe Rich Paul has those attributes and a whole lot more. If you aren’t a basketball fan, you are probably wondering, who is Rich Paul? What does Rich Paul do for a living? And if you are a basketball fanatic like I am, then you know that he is arguably the hottest professional sports agent moving around now. He’s at the top of his game and hitting three-point shots from half court. And in the words of the late Stuart Scott of ESPN, “He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow.”

My earlier reference to college and success aptly applies to Rich Paul. He did not attend college. He is a graduate of Benedictine High School in Cleveland, Ohio. Paul was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, but he was born with a heaping tablespoon of hope. What he did with that hope is why he is the talk of the NBA.

Rich Paul met LeBron James in 2002 at the Akron-Canton Airport where he was selling throwback jerseys. Each made an impression upon the other. This chance meeting was the foundation for bigger things to come.

Paul was asked by LeBron to join his inner circle, which included best friends, Maverick Carter and Randy Mims. Rich Paul founded Klutch Sports in 2012 and LeBron is his premier client.

In some ways, you can say Rich Paul is a self-taught sports agent. He wasn’t in the halls of Ivy taking courses in business, economics and management. However, he was in the library, on the Internet and learning from others how to become a sports agent. It is safe to say he learned his craft well.

While LeBron is probably his most famous client, he is not his only client. You can add pro basketball players Draymond Green, John Wall, Ben Simmons and Anthony Davis as members of Klutch Sports. These players were courted by other agents, but Paul had the “it” factor.  It is his knowledge of the business, understanding the NBA landscape and showing that he cares about his clients. Will he get more players to join him at Klutch Sports? The question is, how many players will join him from the NBA and from other professional leagues?

Of course, with any type of success from an outsider, roving eyes have started to watch him. Some folks just don’t like to see you be successful. Success is not a monopoly, as it is open to all of us.  Not surprising, the NCAA has been observing Paul. It is my take that they didn’t like what they saw.

Darius Bazley, a promising Syracuse recruit, decided not to attend college. Instead, with Rich Paul serving as his agent, Bazley is now working as an intern with New Balance Athletic Wear. The internship negotiated by Rich Paul is worth one million dollars. The NCAA snooped, but they got duped.

Acting like a scorned partner they toyed with a rule where agents representing college players would have to have college degrees. The criticism of this rule was so severe that the NCAA had to back up from that ridiculous rule.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said, “I think Rich has more than demonstrated that he’s a professional negotiator.”

Kudos to Silver for taking a stand and putting the NCAA in its place.

Rich Paul is competent, clever and connected. Oh my!

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