LeBron James holds an unprecedented amount of power over the NBA and its members. As the face of basketball and the owner of a brand/legacy that stretches around the world, there are few who can compete with his fame.
While not confirmed, it is widely speculated that LeBron runs and recruits for Klutch Sports, an agency group that now represents a large percentage of the NBA player-base. When a player signs with them, it’s often seen as an indicator of his relationship with James.
But in a quote by one NBA agent, this system is not only illegal but also detrimental to some players, who lose millions due to mismanagement.
“I think he’s an all-time phenomenon. An amazing career,” the agent said. “I think he’s a notch below Michael Jordan still but I think it’s amazing how he’s evolved. It’s amazing what he’s done and continues to do. The bad thing, the only bad thing, everyone is afraid to say this and I’m not afraid to say it individually, but I’m just saying this because it’s true. And everybody knows this, who is in this business.
“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.
“There’s at least five or six massive casualties. Nobody is saying anything and you can even say that the union should take some responsibility because they represent all of the players, not just LeBron James. Because this is anonymous. I hope you have the courage to put this out there, because nobody is talking about this but this is the reality, and if you ask any other agent what I just said, they would all agree.”
An anonymous agent goes off on LeBron James and Rich Paul for costing Klutch clients millions of dollars
“It’s illegal for a player, particularly if you’re in the state of California, to be licensed to represent talent.”
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) October 22, 2020
The agent, who remained confidential for obvious reasons, cited a few examples of the “mismanagement” he referenced in his rant.
“They’ve been able to leverage [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope], two or three years in a row because they have the power and they’re forcing it down their throat. Nerlens Noel. There are four or five of them that have suffered millions of dollars from mismanagement but nobody has the courage to support it, because all the media wants access to LeBron… Nerlens Noel. Norris Cole. Shabazz Muhammed. They lost $80 million in Detroit. This is real talk.”
The NBA investigated LeBron’s involvement in Klutch Sports back in 2017 and was found to have no ownership stake in the company. Still, it doesn’t mean he’s not running the show from behind the scenes.
But until concrete evidence (if it exists) is brought to light, there’s really nothing anybody can do about it.