"That mustachioed fourflusher."
It is the greatest quote in the history of sports labor, because it
explains in three words what every management person in history feels about
every player advocate. Every other remark either has more verbiage, or its
sentiments are more diffuse. Even when you discount the archaic language,
you know exactly what Richards thought of the man who built the modern
-- Atlanta Braves general manager Paul Richards on Marvin Miller, 1969.
Which brings us to the musical question:
When will Michael Jordan call David Falk "That bald, 56-megabyte
Jordan's ascension into the man who would save the Washington Wizards
from themselves has created a fair bit of stir, as you might guess. Of
course, Jordan shaving a cat would create a fair bit of stir, but that's
our problem (and the cat's, for that matter) rather than his.
Along the way, though, some folks started wondering if he might not
start cutting Falk, his longtime agent and friend, some inappropriate slack
on behalf of his current client list. You know, just as a way of saying
thanks for those $350 million Falk helped generate.
Lord, the things we think sometimes.
Jordan's return to the NBA's front-and-center comes at a time when
crowds and interest are plainly down, although the general manager hasn't
been born yet who could materially affect either attendance or television
ratings. They are, after all, disingenuous guys in suits -- you know, just
like your boss.
It is Jordan's potentially conflicted relationship with Falk that
raises eyebrows among people who are way too inside for their own mental
well-being. Why, they ask, wouldn't Jordan work, with Abe Pollin's and Ted
Leonsis' money at the ready, to the benefit of the members of the Falk
The answer to that is simple. Because he is Michael Jordan.
If that seems flip to you, well, you're wrong, so shut up and read.
Michael Jordan did not get to be Michael Jordan by not doing what was in
Michael Jordan's best interests, or by doing what was not in Michael
Jordan's best interests. What is in Michael Jordan's best interests today
is to elevate the Wizards from the gaseous, festering, bacillus-riddled
death trench in which they currently reside. That way, he would not only be
considered one of the century's greatest athletes, but a master at front
office machinations, at which athletes have not traditionally excelled.
To put it another way, if Jordan bombs, that's on him.
Secondly, Jordan is not one to see the inherent good in pure charity
on the court. One of the most striking facets of his game was its
Darwinism. When it comes to basketball, he doesn't deal in favors. He deals
To put it another way, in basketball dealings, Jordan's friends work
with him or for him. Everyone else is on their own.
Thirdly, there is still the salary cap, and money he errantly throws
at Falk clients just because they are Falk clients is money he wouldn't
have for guys who could help. The Wizards have names, but they don't have a
cohesive team, which is to say they're playing .300 basketball with cap
To put it another way, Jordan can't afford generosity without purpose.
Fourthly, and this is the big one, Michael Jordan owes David Falk
nothing. Michael Jordan made David Falk an extraordinary amount of money in
his time, which is recompense enough. Plus, Falk was the employee in this
relationship, selling Jordan at Jordan's behest, not the other way around.
They get along well because they have thrived under the relationship, but
Falk did not beget Jordan, Jordan begat Falk.
To put it another way, there's no quid pro quo at work here, at least
not with the kind of quid NBA players make these days.
Michael Jordan, of course, is retired from the NBA, but powerful agent David Falk remains aligned with MJ, as well as many other players. Here is a complete list of Falk's NBA clients.
Kenny Anderson, Celtics
Brent Barry, Sonics
Jonathan Bender, Pacers
Mike Bibby, Grizzlies
Muggsy Bogues, Raptors
Shawn Bradley, Mavericks
Elton Brand, Bulls
Kobe Bryant, Lakers
Sam Cassell, Bucks
Rex Chapman, Suns
Baron Davis, Hornets
Michael Doleac, Magic
Patrick Ewing, Knicks
Adonal Foyle, Warriors
Matt Geiger, 76ers
Othella Harrington, Grizzlies
Juwan Howard, Wizards
Larry Hughes, 76ers
Mark Jackson, Pacers
Antawn Jamison, Warriors
Kerry Kittles, Nets
Raef LaFrentz, Nuggets
Trajan Langdon, Cavaliers
Felipe Lopez, Grizzlies
Stephon Marbury, Nets
Tracy McGrady, Raptors
Roshown McLeod, Hawks
Reggie Miller, Pacers
Chris Mills, Warriors
Alonzo Mourning, Heat
Lamond Murray, Cavaliers
Tracy Murray, Wizards
Dikembe Mutombo, Hawks
Jermaine O'Neal, Trail Blazers
Will Perdue, Bulls
Vitaly Potapenko, Celtics
Bryant Reeves, Grizzlies
Glen Rice, Lakers
Jalen Rose, Pacers
Malik Sealy, Timberwolves
Rod Strickland, Wizards
Bob Sura, Cavaliers
Maurice Taylor, Clippers
Tim Thomas, Bucks
Keith Van Horn, Nets
Antoine Walker, Celtics
Note: These are the clients of the SFX Sports Group, which Falk heads. Not all work directly with Falk.
And as Jordan said in his news conference: "I will make my own decisions."
In sum, whatever issues Michael Jordan might have in trying to put
earrings and a gown on this wolverine, being excessively generous to David
Falk won't be one of them. If Falk brings him signable players who can help
the Wizards stop being the Wizards, they can do deals in three minutes. If
Falk brings him a two-guard who can't shoot, or a point guard who can't
pass, or a four who can't rebound, or a five whose playing idol was Benoit
Benjamin, it's no deal, even if Falk brings the turkey on Thanksgiving.
At least, it better be no deal. Otherwise, the Wizards will remain the
Wizards, and Jordan's reputation as the third milennium's first Renaissance
Man will be seriously damaged. You know how well that will play in his
bathroom mirror every morning.
So worry not your pretty little brain about whether Michael Jordan is
going to turn Washington into David Falk's personal ATM. He'll do what
helps him first, last and always.
If you doubt that, just wait for the first spirited negotiating
session. If you see Jordan at a press conference calling Falk "that
doorknob-headed extortionist," you may rest easy. Paul Richards will be
Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Examiner is a regular contributor to ESPN.com.
|Michael Jordan says David Falk works for him, not the other way around.|| |
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