The game changer of basketball is not a player. It is not an owner. It is the childhood best friend of the greatest basketball player in our current generation.
His name is Rich Paul. He has a cover of Sports Illustrated. He has learned the fine art of the trade and player representation through school and understudies as an agent for another company. He decided to do the unthinkable and branch out to start his own business. He has become a fine example of entrepreneurship. He dared to leave the establishment and represent the undisputed king of basketball, Lebron James. This visionary started his own company, Klutch Sports, in which he has done something that is against all “unwritten” rules of basketball.
Klutch Sports is ranked number 30 on the Forbes’ List of sports agencies as of last year but has rapidly moved into a higher position with a roster of players who could beat any starting five in the league today. The headquarters is in Cleveland, Ohio with multiple clients like LeBron James, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons, John Wall and Anthony Davis, just to name a select few. Davis in many franchises would have been considered untradeable. A player of world talent is on a poorly built team. He dealt with injuries, but the front office still did not improve the roster enough to get them past the second round, even though he led them through a first-round sweep of Portland in 2018.
Davis wanted out because he wanted more. He trusted Paul to find a way to make it happen and made his intentions known. Paul and the entire world knew that Davis wanted to play with LeBron without tampering. New Orleans honored his trade requests despite upsetting their own fanbase and the entire league because they originally wanted to trade him to Boston.
The Lakers jumped at the chance to land him last year. The management would have traded everyone except LeBron to land him. He is clearly an all-world talent that should be watched on primetime television. The Los Angeles market alone will provide that for him and many other opportunities. Boston refused to give their young assets to get Davis and was betting on free agency next year to get a chance to sign him without trades. In this era, you snooze and you lose. Paul warned teams that he will not resign them because his desire is the Lakers only. The media and social media voiced their mixed opinions and mostly were displeased by these actions. But, he did what he was supposed to do which was to take care of his client in the most efficient and best way possible. The Lakers later obliged and indeed trade away their young coveted talent and draft picks for Davis in a blockbuster deal.
He changed the game just like his best friend did. He should be commended. He should be respected. The player roster that he represents has all-world talent. Klutch has taken over the game in its own way. The game has changed because the owner has officially lost power and it is on the player and the agents. They cannot be seen as assets but as people. People make decisions on what is best for them. Just wait! More decisions of this magnitude are looming. The landscape has shifted. We will have to watch for the organizational shade and then it happened.
Today, the NCAA requires for agents to have the following criterion met prior to representing any prospective NBA player: they must hold a bachelor’s degree, they must be certified by the National Basketball Players’ Association for a minimum of three years, and they must take an in-person exam in Indianapolis which is the NCAA headquarters. Paul does not currently possess a bachelors’ degree at this present time.
Per this rule, he is no longer eligible to represent or advise a college player headed to the NBA draft. To me, I feel like he was targeted. The statement had to be said. Paul went against the status quo and against the current model. This will harm his business model. The social media reaction is most definitely noted. Even, LeBron chimed in. The NCAA continues to flex its power over student-athletes. They provided nothing but shade towards Paul. They wrote a rule that originally was unwritten. This means Paul was indeed changing the game. He made the establishment mad.
There are a lot of businesses that do have a CEO that does not possess a higher education degree. Most of these are successful too. Apparently, Paul knows exactly what he is doing. The acumen was on full display this summer. On July 17, United Talent Agency made a significant investment into Klutch Sports Group. United Talent Agency is a major talent agency based out of Los Angeles in which they boast a large roster of talent from media, modeling, film and even video games.
This visionary appears to be ahead of the times which leads many wondering what exactly is the next move for Paul and Klutch Sports? He has been a master on the chessboard. Can the gamechanger change the game again?