HoopsHype David Falk rumors

October 5, 2011 Updates

Not that some us didn’t see it coming. Making its way around the Internet on Tuesday, this is from a 1998 Tom Boswell column in the Post about the league’s last lockout, in which Boz comes across as pretty prescient: “It takes a long time — many years of hatred and mistrust, bad faith and grudges — to do something as historically dumb and destructive as baseball pulled in 1994. You have to lay the groundwork. You have to poison the water. Powerful people, and their ardent disciples, must learn how to despise, demonize and distort their adversaries across the bargaining table. That takes time, pain, public embarrassment and enormous sums of squandered profits. “That’s what the NBA is doing now. Commissioner David Stern and agent David Falk, deputy commissioner Russ Granik and union head Billy Hunter, are doing a textbook job of setting the stage for years of anger, future strikes, erosion of public image and finally — who knows? — maybe 13 years from now, one final battle as idiotic as the one from which baseball is still trying to recover.” Crazy, no, the same entrenched places, if new faces, at the 2011 bargaining table. Washington Post

September 27, 2011 Updates
September 26, 2011 Updates

David Falk on why a deal needs to get done right now: “We’re right up against the deadline. Unlike ’98, when we had a 50-game season, I would bet a lot of money that if we miss one or two games, we’re going to miss the whole season. This is like Texas Hold’em; it’s all in. Everyone has to understand what’s at stake. It’s my understanding that the owners project if there’s no season, they’ll lose $1.5 billion and if there’s no season the players will lose $2.167 billion in salary, probably another $200 or $300 million more in endorsements.” Sports Radio Interviews

What would you do if you could get in that room and play the role of mediator? David Falk: “I volunteered. I’ve given both sides very, very specific suggestions on how to get over the hurdle. … I think that I could make this deal in one day, with either party. I really do. I know it sounds egotistical saying that, but I know all the owners well. … Obviously I’ve represented players for 37 years. … I’m disappointed that the young stars of the NBA today, the LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, those guys need to be involved full-time, not part-time. … I think that they are allowing other people to determine their future financial fortunes, which is a terrible mistake.” Sports Radio Interviews

August 29, 2011 Updates

Anderson, who retired in 2005, declined an interview request for this story. Ewing — as a member of the Orlando Magic coaching staff — is forbidden to speak on labor issues, under the threat of heavy fines from the commissioner’s office. Speaking on behalf of his former clients, Falk said: “I’m sure they do regret it, particularly Kenny. I’m sure Kenny regrets having said what he said.” But, Falk added, “I think anyone who is going to evaluate the lockout based on what happened 10 years ago is looking in the wrong direction.” New York Times

March 24, 2011 Updates

The sports agent who represented Michael Jordan and other NBA stars is donating $15 million to Syracuse University. College officials say Thursday that David Falk and his wife, Rhonda, have pledged the funds for academic programs at the newly named David B. Falk College of Sport and Human Dynamics. Newsday

March 6, 2011 Updates

With the new CBA coming up, and the cap looking like it’s going to be lower, do you think you will have more pressure from clients to make up for their lost contract money? David Falk: I don’t think the cap is going to be lower. I think they’ll lower the percentage of revenues at the end of the day. But I don’t think they’ll ever lower the cap. Sole Collector

So, obviously, the client you are most known for is MJ. Could you talk about how that came about? David Falk: What happened at North Carolina was our firm ProServ – Donald Dell and a gentleman named Frank Craighill, who were the two senior partners – had a very close relationship with Coach Smith. Frank Craighill had been a Morehead Scholar, which is like a scholar athlete at Carolina. And so they had represented George Karl, Dennis Wuycik and Bobby Jones in the old days. Then it really sort of clicked in about ’77. We represented a player named Tommy LaGarde, who had busted up his knee, and they got him a great deal at number nine. That was one of the deals I was actually involved with. So, from that time on, we basically got all the Carolina guys. We got Phil Ford, who was the Player of the Year in ’78, Dudley Bradley in ’79, Mike O’Koren in ’80, Al Wood in ’81 and [James] Worthy in ’82. So the players, after a while, they sort of learned what I call “the drill.” The drill was, we’d come down to Carolina, Donald and myself – he was the senior guy, I was the junior guy – and the players knew that Donald would do their first deal. They called him the ghost. They’d never hear from him again. And then I would take over and do all the grunt work, and then when the second contract came, I would do it. Sole Collector

David Falk: By the time Michael came out of school in ’84, we went down to make a presentation. There was no recruiting allowed then. Dean didn’t allow any recruiting whatsoever. And when I say whatsoever, underline the “ever.” [laughs] He’d say, don’t call them, don’t call the parents, don’t “bump” into them, and you’ll have a one-hour presentation at the end of school. So, Dean recommended to Michael that he leave school as a junior. We went down and met him. He knew "the drill," and he signed with us. Clearly we were invited down on the strength of Donald’s relationship. I would never dispute that. Donald did his first contract with the Bulls; I had no involvement with it whatsoever. And that was the only deal that he was involved with. After that, I took over and developed a very close relationship with Michael. I felt that Michael needed to know that I was working for him. I wasn’t working for a company that represented him. I was working for him. I would try to recommend things to him and screen things for him to promote his interests. Sole Collector

David Falk: For the Air Jordan deal, I came up with the name “Air Jordan.” I had an extremely close relationship with Rob Strasser at Nike, who was the head of marketing, and I did all the deals. I wouldn’t let anyone in the firm do any deals, in any sport, for Nike yet. I understood what they wanted, what their MO was, and maintained that relationship. Donald had a very close relationship with adidas, and another gentleman in the firm, Lee Fentress, had a very close relationship with Converse. I was the young guy; I was looking for my own identity. I sort of found Nike when they were very small and grew with them. So, Michael came to Nike because of my relationship with Rob Strasser. Sole Collector

How much involvement did Michael have back then, as far as product and creative input? David Falk: Because Michael was a very bright guy, he listened a lot the first few years. I had a lot of involvement. Because Nike was so small and entrepreneural back then, with a lot of the early commercials, Strasser and I would literally sit down for like sushi and beer in Portland, and after a few beers, we’d get a little more creative. [laughs] I remember we did one commercial with the jet plane, and that was after our third whatever-beer-we-were-drinking in Portland. It was fun back then, because no one was doing that. No other young player had his own line. Bird didn’t have his own shoe, Magic didn’t have his own shoe, Dr. J didn’t have his own shoe – Bernard King, Isiah Thomas – none of the players had their own shoe. I think that created so much jealousy that was exhibited at his first All-Star Game, when Isiah froze him out, which he’s never admitted to, to this day. Some people at some point in their career say, “I admit I made a mistake. I did it.” Sole Collector

Do you have any stories of “disagreements” you and MJ might have had along the way over endorsements? David Falk: Oh, sure. Obviously, you don’t have relationships where you don’t have disagreements. Michael is an extremely bright, independently minded person. And I’m an extremely stubborn, [laughs] passionate person. I’ve told this story a million times. When he got involved with his gambling situation, and the story broke, I remember watching a game, and when the game ended, he got interviewed, and he was wearing sunglasses in the locker room. This isn’t Stevie Wonder, this isn’t Dennis Rodman, this is Michael Jordan. I flew out to Chicago right away. When I picked up the paper, I remember reading a quote from Jessie Jackson – this was at the very height of his power back then – and he was saying that Michael Jordan can associate with whomever he wants. No one can tell him who to associate with. I cringed. Sole Collector

David Falk: So I sat down with Michael, and I said, “Look, you haven’t robbed a bank; you haven’t killed someone; you haven’t committed a serious crime, or any crime. But you made a mistake in judgment. You hung out with people that have embarrassed you. What you should do is apologize.” He got really, really upset with me, and he said, “I knew you were going to say that. You always support the companies.” I said, “No, I’m not supporting the companies; I’m supporting you. You have a simple choice to make. If you want to be a role model, and you make a mistake as a role model, you need to come clean, fess up, and say you made a mistake in judgment. If you want to hang out with who you want to hang out with, that’s cool, too. Let’s cancel all the contracts, and you have free reign. You can hang out with drug dealers; you can hang out with pimps; you can hang out with whomever you want to. Don’t worry about what people think, because you don’t want to be a role model. But you can’t be both.” It’s the only time in my career that I was really worried that he would fire me. Sole Collector

David Falk: What I think is that athletes have the unique ability, when you’re making $100-plus million dollars, to impact a lot of situations charitably. Dikembe Mutombo is a role model who built a hospital in the Congo with $20 million of his own money. Antoine Walker made approximately what Dikembe made, and what’s his impact? What’s he going to be remembered for? Mutombo is going to be remembered as a humanitarian; he’s going to be remembered for the hospital; he’s going to be remembered for the finger wag, but he’s made an impact on society. People like Antoine could have made an impact in Chicago. He could have donated money for an athletic facility at his high school; he could have given money to inner city education, and instead, he’s going to be remembered for going bankrupt. It sort of fosters all the negative stereotypes of athletes, as overindulgent. And Antoine’s not a bad guy, but it saddens me greatly. Sole Collector

February 28, 2011 Updates
February 21, 2011 Updates

Falk also blamed the union for not cleaning up bribery and whatever else leads today's stars to other agents. "I've been through it in 1998, 2005," said Hunter at Sunday's game at Staples Center. "I've been around for 15 years and we got through it. "As a matter of fact, the owners are saying that the deals that we got were adverse to their interest. I don't take it as much. I just know we've got to be prepared to go through this." Los Angeles Times

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