When Rich Paul and Klutch Sports teamed up with LeBron James and started changing the culture of sports agencies and the dynamics of NBA and multi-media business, exposing the NCAA, mastering the art of player empowerment and flipping the script from the grassroots on up, they became corporate America’s worst nightmare.
Last week the NCAA released a memo identifying new criteria for agents to be eligible to represent college athletes considering the NBA Draft early — notably the requirement of a bachelor’s degree. It was quickly tabbed “The Rich Paul Rule” because it would prevent agents such as Paul, who didn’t go to college, from representing student-athletes not finished with the school who are considering the draft without compromising their eligibility.
The NCAA and the traditional, white powerhouse NBA sports agencies had to do something to make sure that another Rich Paul — a man so entrenched in the streets, the corporate lifestyle, the cutthroat world of big business and connected to the soul of the players, having shared a similar cultural rise — never emerges again.
Takeaways From The Athletic, Probable Racist Reactions
Paul understands the racist undertones and personal attack on his journey expressed in the new criteria. While the new rules won’t stop him from conducting business, he preached the gospel about the effect it may have on future aspiring African-American sports agents in his Op-ed for The Athletic.
These five particular quotes really stood out and cut to the meat of America’s problems. It made me consider what the flip side is probably thinking, but not saying, in response.
“NCAA executives are once again preventing young people from less prestigious backgrounds, and often people of color, from working in the system they continue to control. In this case, the people being locked out are kids who aspire to be an agent and work in the NBA and do not have the resources, opportunity or desire to get a four-year degree.”
Racist translation: “Rich Paul is the last overly ambitious brother that is going to infiltrate our lily-white forces and take over the damn game. One Jay-Z per generation in this business.”
“I actually support requiring three years of experience before representing a kid testing the market. I can even get behind passing a test. However, requiring a four-year degree accomplishes only one thing — systematically excluding those who come from a world where college is unrealistic.”
Racist translation: “Most of y’all black and brown people are not going to be able to pay for four years of a highly accredited D-1 college anyway, so we are going to eliminate half of you before you ever get the crazy idea of becoming a big-time sports agent for one of your million dollar NBA friends.”
“ Why don’t they partner with universities on a one-year program for agents who don’t meet their requirements but want to learn the business? Or work with existing agents who play by the rules to help mentor those who are trying to “break-in?”
Racist Response: “That makes too much sense. And why would we let you build an army of Rich Paul’s? Do you think we are nuts? We’re trying to eliminate you not mass produce you. You are causing serious damage to the way we do things around here.”
“There’s another practical reason that this rule doesn’t make sense. Respectfully, how do four years studying sports marketing in a classroom make you more qualified to represent a kid than working at Klutch Sports Group or for an NBA front office? Or at any other entrepreneurial business for that matter? All this will do is exclude the agents whose life experience helps them understand the needs of many of these players best.”
Racist Response: “Exactly. We want to keep the traditional socio-economic disparity between agents and the players the way it is. We can’t have African-Americans who understand the streets, have personal relationships with players and have risen to the top of their craft, cornering the market and eliminating the power of white sports agencies and further sullying the NCAA-to-pro pipeline that we’ve had on lock since the beginning of time.”
Rich Paul’s A Threat Because He Calls His Own Shots
Player empowerment is one thing. At the end of the day, the players still answer to the owner and the commissioner. Also,if they assert their personal beliefs too hard, recent evidence suggests they could be blackballed from the league.
Sports agents like Paul, however, have no Daddy. As long as his business is straight with the US government, he’s good to wheel and deal. He makes his own moves and can dream as big as he wants. At this point, LeBron is in the same boat. He doesn’t play basketball for the money anymore. He’s created a billion-dollar brand that will only gain in influence and activism as his basketball popularity wanes.
These guys sparked a flame in the intellects of every player in the NBA and became real-life examples of how African-Americans can and should stick together, embrace activism and empower themselves economically, socially and athletically.
Circumventing An Oppressive System
Kenny Smith called the NCAA “predatorial.” A host of NBA stars have called it “exploitative.”
In recent years high school players whose financial opportunities have been delayed by inhibitive NCAA rules, have found ways to circumvent the oppressive system by going overseas or joining newly formed leagues that allow players to enter and get paid straight out of high school.
Emerging African-American agents such as Rich Paul have helped mentor young black athletes, have their best interests in mind and are making sure that their young clients are investing wisely. It goes against the grain of everything the traditional white agent was about. Keeping his Black client as ignorant about business as possible was how the white agent kept control and value.
The NBA even stunted on the NCAA by allowing 18-year-old HS ballers to play in the G-League until they are age-eligible for the NBA Draft and earn up to $100,000.
The NCAA needed to do something to regain control over a system that was quickly finding ways to minimize its control and impact. Since organized collegiate sports became a big business the NCAA has been the gatekeeper or morality, money and making the rules concerning the future of student-athletes. The “Rich Paul Rule” is just another attempt by a white, governing body to remain omnipotent. No one understands the multi-layered impact of his emergence more than Paul.
Update: According to ESPN, the NCAA has “amended” their new student-athlete player agent rule aka the Rich Paul rule:
The NCAA has amended its certification process for agents representing basketball players who are deciding whether to stay in school or explore the NBA draft and will no longer require them to have a bachelor’s degree.
Instead, agents who don’t have a bachelor’s degree will have to be in good standing with the NBA Players Association.
“We are committed to providing student-athletes who are deciding whether to stay in school or explore NBA draft options with access to a wide array of resources to make their decision,” the NCAA said in a statement on Monday.
Click here to read the full statement.