I wanted to meet a college player who I really enjoyed watching this year.
So I asked a friend of mine, who is a very powerful man in the game, to introduce me to him. And he said, "I'd like to help but I can't."
And when I asked why. He said, "You are three years and $500,000 short."
I didn't really waste any time wondering who that story might be about. How could you ever know? I printed it as Falk intended it: as a general comment on the sad state of recruiting in basketball.
But, let's not forget, TrueHoop is home to the big ol' William Wesley investigation. TrueHoop readers are tuned into Wesley. And when a lot of people read this, they started to email me, comment on TrueHoop, and blog about the idea that the "very powerful man" had been William Wesley.
What's more, people took that even a step further, and implied that Wesley had been not just Falk's friend, but even more than that the actual person who had done the paying.
I heard that, and called some agents and the like -- NBA insider types -- to ask them what they thought about these comments, emails, and blog posts. Turns out this quote has become something of a parlour game among that set. Everyone has their theories about who is involved here.
But all were surprised at some of the reactions in the blogosphere, and the comments. Some took it as possible, or even likely, that Wesley had in fact been the friend Falk had been referring to. But no one thought he would have been the been the guy to do the paying. It just didn't make sense to them, for a number of reasons. One said it wasn't Wesley's style. Another pointed out that it would have been unlikely for Falk -- who knows the world of basketball and Wesley well -- to seek recruiting help from a man who was competing for that same player.
Everyone pointed out that the players in this draft who have a shot at being worth that kind of money signed with agents not known to have any connections to Wesley.
I thought David Falk might be willing to clarify a little bit. We spoke yesterday, and this is what he told me:
William Wesley has been a friend of mine for 22 years, and I wish him nothing but the best. He has a great talent to make connections to people, and I consider him a friend.
In no way did I want to imply that William Wesley was the person who paid the player I was referring to. It doesn't matter who the player involved was, and it doesn't matter who the agent was. But I have had some phone calls from people saying they thought I was talking about William Wesley paying somebody, and I want to make clear that I wasn't.
I'm not a guy to comment on the identity of a certain player. It was intended as a state-of-the-union comment about this industry.
We live in an environment where if you're a top player, everyone in the food chain expects to be paid. I'm not angry about it. But I was asked about young people studying to become agents, and I can tell you this is why I'm not as enthusiastic for them.
I suggested to Falk that, right or not, the phrase "powerful man in the game" nowadays seems to carry the implication that it's one of a very small group, including William Wesley or Sonny Vaccaro.
There are a lot of powerful people in basketball. Some of them I know, and they help me. The person that I talked to in this instance wanted to help me, I believe, because he likes me.
In all my years of doing this, I never met a player through Sonny Vaccaro. Sonny was dealing with Arn Tellem, and then Bill Duffy, and now apparently back to Arn again.
I want to make it crystal clear. The person I turned to for help -- he said to me that he would like to help me, but he couldn't, because the situation was that someone else had paid that player a large amount of money over three years.
I wanted to meet the player, and he said I can't do it -- it's done.
If a friend of mine had paid that person, I never would have put this idea out there.
I was talking about the young people at Syracuse University's David B. Falk Center for Sport Management. I was asked if I would help them become agents, and I think that if you have talent and integrity, this is probably not the kind of business you'd want to get into.
It's not competition based on merit. It's competition based on improper inducements. I think it's an abomination as it is. There are a number of ways to fix it, if people really wanted to.
My days as an activist are probably behind me.
Have you seen Crocodile Dundee 2? There's a part where an African-American guy comes up to Paul Hogan and pulls a switchblade on him. Hogan is from the outback, and asks, what's that? And the guy says that's a knife. Hogan says that's not a knife. THIS is a knife, and then he pulls out this huge machete.
Sometimes I think that I'd like to be like Crocodile Dundee. You want to cheat? Let's really cheat. You want to pay someone $500,000? Let's pay them $5 million and see what happens. You want to do that?
But ... can you get that money back? Of course not. You lose before you even start. If you pay people $500,000 to get to represent them at the draft -- the minute you have to pay them is the minute you can no longer advise them as an impartial agent.
I've never met a player so valuable that I'd pay him, and I hope that I never will.