Most people don’t know how a player goes about choosing their agent and what goes on in the pitch meetings. Fans may see a tweet or short article announcing which player an agent hired, but that’s about it. HoopsHype wanted to take a deeper look at the process of selecting a representative, so we talked to several NBA players and agents to understand what it’s like to be on both sides of the table: Player No. 1: “As I was considering which agents to meet with, I was really considering their body of work – what they’ve been able to do for other players, particularly what they’ve been able to do recently. And even though this is a business, I wanted someone who made sure things were family-oriented. If we’re going to be working together for a while, I need somebody I can trust and somebody who is looking out for me. The agent being family-oriented was important to me. Once I felt like I found someone who was on the same page as me and was honest about how both sides would benefit if I hired him, I knew that’s who I should go with.
Player No. 2: “If it’s a big agency, they’re talking about their success and what they’ve done with other players while also telling you that they’ll have time for you and that they won’t big-time you or focus mostly on their bigger clients. On the other hand, the smaller agencies are trying to prove that they’re significant enough to get things done for you in the NBA world. The smaller agencies will also stress that you’ll be a top priority because they don’t have a big client list, unlike some of the large agencies competing against them. It really comes down to what you’re looking for as a player.”
Agent No. 2: “Those meetings can be pretty difficult because usually you haven’t spent a lot of time with the people you’re pitching to in the room. Yeah, you’ve seen them at games and talked to them on the phone a bit, but you haven’t spent a significant amount of time with them and gotten to really know them. Prospects will sometimes line up five or six of these agent meetings in a row, so you basically have an hour and a half to really connect with the player and his family and give your pitch.
Agent No. 4: “The pitch meeting is like the final exam. If you’re doing this right, you’ve been recruiting the particular player you’re meeting with for quite some time. When a player decides to leave school and declare for the draft, that’s not when you start recruiting a player; you’ve been recruiting that player for years. You’ve already gotten to know the people in that player’s life.”
Agent No. 3: “I went to the McDonald’s All-American Game this year and I realized that a lot of those players are already committed to an agent and they’ve already been paid. It’s the worst kept secret in the agent business – some of these kids are being ‘bought’ before they even enter college.”
Not long ago, I discussed with Dallas Mavericks boss Donnie Nelson the value of relationships with agents. “Put it this way,” Donnie said. “We wouldn’t have won the 2011 NBA title without the friendships that we have with Jeff Schwartz and Dan Fegan.”