William Wesley Rumors
Carmelo Anthony staged a dinner meeting with his entourage Friday night to discuss his free-agent future, according to a source familiar with the situation. Anthony, his Creative Artists Agency agent Leon Rose, and CAA advisor William Wesley were in the group of six at a well-known haunt on 28th Street called Pergola in a strategy session discussing their options. The source said the group sat in a private back room.
Thibodeau is represented by CAA and counts the agency’s representative William Wesley as one of his advisers. The powerful Wesley has heavy influence within the Knicks’ organization, especially with new president Steve Mills. According to a league source, Wesley’s insistence is why the Knicks signed J.R. Smith when he returned from China.
It wasn’t unusual, but certainly was notable, that Bryant spent a good bit of time after Sunday’s game catching up with two power brokers who make such things happen from coast to coast in the NBA: William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, the CAA operative who has sunk his influence deeply into the Knicks, and Robert “Bay” Frazier, Anthony’s business manager.
As if the Midwest region wasn’t dripping with enough storylines – Rick Pitino is unbeaten in the Sweet 16 (10-0), Izzo vs. Coach K, a potential November rematch between Louisville and Duke looming Sunday – a bizarre one emerged before tip-off tonight: Stadium security was told to be on the lookout for William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, aka, LeBron’s BFF. Why is security on the lookout for basketball’s top power broker? It could be a number of things. Worldwide Wes is a Kentucky guy, so perhaps Rick Pitino doesn’t want him anywhere near his heavily-favored Cardinals.
Behind the scenes, a source close to the team says that William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, a consultant for the agency that represents Anthony, informed Dolan that Carmelo was not pleased with the direction of the team under D’Antoni. This is nothing new; backstage maneuvering helped engineer Anthony’s departure from Denver and Paul’s from New Orleans. But when it comes to matters pertaining to Anthony, this source described Dolan as being easily swayed by the notoriously mysterious, famously well-connected and mythically powerful Worldwide Wes.
Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan surprised his former teammate Scottie Pippen for Pippen’s 47th birthday party Monday night. Pippen’s wife, Larsa, planned the secret bash at Chicago hot spot Sunda. Bulls family, including team president Michael Reinsdorf and his wife, Nancy, NBA power broker William “World Wide Wes” Wesley, Antoine Walker, Ahmad Rashad, and new Bulls recruit and Chicago native Nazr Mohammed gathered to celebrate at the club with Pippen. Sources told us the fun night ended with a dance-off between Jordan and Pippen to the Trey Songz and Fabolous song, “Say Ahh.”
You understand in the end that Wesley’s central mission is to get close to young, talented basketball players. And now, he’s working as a consultant for Creative Artists Agency, on his way to becoming a full-blown certified NBA agent. Trail Blazers? You want to win big in free agency this summer? You’ll need to get close to “Uncle Wes.” Hire the guy as GM and leave nothing to chance. Oregon fans know what I’m talking about. Wesley is close friends with former Ducks assistant Kenny Payne. They met while Payne was a player at Louisville. And when Payne was hired by former coach Ernie Kent, it wasn’t long until the talent followed to Eugene. Detroit-area blue-chipper Malik Hairston chose Oregon over Michigan. In fact. Hairston told me, “I’ve known Wes forever,” after I saw the then-sophomore at Game 3 of the 2006 NBA Finals babysitting Wesley’s 4-year old son in a court side seat.
After Monday’s championship game, I think William Sidney Wesley is now running all of basketball. I’ve talked to Wesley a dozen occasions over the years. At times, he’s asked me to not to quote him, not to mention him in print, not to write about the relationships he has with basketball players. “Everytime you mention me, it causes me trouble,” he told me once after I’d written that he sat alongside then-prep star Kyle Singler during a NCAA Tournament game.
He sat behind the Kentucky bench on Monday night during the NCAA Championship basketball game and I’m thinking William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley should have just dropped the charade and slid in beside coach John Calipari. The Wildcats beat Kansas 67-59. Anyone following major college basketball knows that talent rules. And anyone following the line of talent, first to Memphis, and now to Kentucky, knows that Calipari and Wesley are college basketball’s sweetest couple.
What’s more, Calipari is represented by William (World Wide) Wesley, who works for Creative Artists Agency, Hollywood’s most powerful entertainment agency. One of its many patrons is Chris Paul, who figures to be on the market within a matter of months. Wesley also reps Mark Warkentien, current part- time Knicks scout and former Nuggets’ vice president; it’s felt he’d caddy for Cal in the office.
It’s the reason you see LeBron James courtside at Kentucky games and tweeting about the Wildcats in his free time. It’s why Drake, another rapper, sits next to Ashley Judd at games and brings Calipari and his players on stage when he’s performing in Lexington. All of Calipari’s relationships are calculated and meant to give him an edge over his peers, especially when it comes to recruiting. “It definitely changes things for me,” said one top prospect from the Class of 2013. “I like when guys like Drake and LeBron James come to their games. When I see a coach balling with superstars like that, it just opens my eyes. Not only is he a great coach, he’s a cool guy with a lot of relationships. It’s just another reason to like Coach Calipari and why Kentucky is one of my top schools.”
If you’re a player or coach of relevance, there’s a good chance you already know Calipari or a member of his staff. Not only is he constantly introducing himself to prospects, he’s also one of the most visible coaches in the country, as evidenced by his 1,132,088 followers on Twitter, blog and Coach Cal mobile network. “I met him when I was in seventh grade,” said the prospect. “He couldn’t recruit me or anything, but he was the nicest guy and we joked back and forth. My AAU coach had a bond with him so I really liked that too. He seems to know everyone and that helps him.”
Calipari, with help from his agent William Wesley, is the master of building relationships that will benefit him and his program. Worldwise Wes and his Creative Arts Agency connections give Calipari the ability to interact and build relationships with any celebrity or decision maker.
Even if that doesn’t work, others theorize that it will be former Knicks president Isiah Thomas — and not Walsh — who will get the credit when the Knicks finally get Anthony as a free agent over the summer. Thomas still has Dolan’s ear, is as power-hungry as ever and would love nothing more than being able to paint himself as the savior in New York. Even if it meant undercutting the man who saved his career in Indiana and who treated him with dignity and respect upon replacing him with the Knicks. “What’ll happen is, Isiah will ride in and take credit for this due to his relationship with Carmelo, which is non-existent,” a rival executive said. “It’ll be, ‘Donnie couldn’t get it done, but thank God for Isiah and William Wesley and Carmelo!'”
Fittingly, NBA power broker William “Worldwide Wes” Wesley, who works closely with Anthony and his agent, was seated in the first spectator seat next to the Nuggets’ bench. Wesley does frequent NBA games in the Midwest, but his presence was considerably noticeable this night.
“I think a lot of people overexaggerate our friendship, but he’s a good friend to me,” Anthony said. As for a potential trade, Anthony reiterated what he said Tuesday: “I really don’t know what’s going on. It’s three weeks from the deadline, and I can’t tell what’s going on.”
Yes, it gets Anthony his $65 million now. It makes him the centerpiece of the 2012 move into Brooklyn and all. Yet, Anthony keeps hearing Ujiri and his agents tell him: The Knicks don’t have a deal for you. The Knicks aren’t trying that hard (which isn’t true). Anthony watched all his free-agent buddies get everything they wanted over the summer – LeBron and Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Amar’e Stoudemire – and wonders: Why do I have to settle? Why do I have to become the bad guy this season? “There are so many different agendas at play in this deal,” one league official said. “But there’s no question: Leon and Wes want [the Nets] – even if it’s for different reasons.”
Rose is ultimately indebted to Wesley as the recruiting muscle of his agency, but has a unique affinity and loyalty to Hamilton. Hamilton is one of his longest-standing clients, and Rose wants badly to pull Hamilton away from the rebuilding Pistons and partner him with Anthony and Chauncey Billups in New Jersey. Rose – not anyone else – constructed the idea to send Hamilton to the Nets. How this all benefits Anthony remains a mystery.
Wesley is a close associate of Nets minority owner, Jay-Z, and everyone believes he wants a further entrée into the lair of Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Within the league, they all get it: Wes wants access to Prokhorov’s empire, wants to get the coaches he reps hired in Jersey and get full access to the franchise.
As happened with LeBron James’ inner-circle last summer, there’s a growing tension within Anthony’s camp over the agendas of the agents. Rose and Wesley – the famous Worldwide Wes – have pushed for the Nuggets to make a deal with the Nets.
The Nets need to get a commitment from Anthony that he’ll sign the extension, and they received word Sunday (not the first time they’ve been told this) that Anthony was amenable to the deal. But did they hear that from Anthony himself? Or from his representatives, Leon Rose and William Wesley? Because at the end of the day, no matter how many people in Anthony’s camp are telling him and/or pressuring him to sign off on the deal, it still comes down to whether Anthony himself says “Yes” or “No.”
This is where it gets tricky. If all those services were provided because Frazier was a family friend, they would be legal. If they were made because Selby was a basketball star, then it’s an NCAA infraction. The NCAA deemed it was the latter. The NCAA, however, stopped short of saying that Selby could no longer have contact with Frazier. Despite the small trouble Selby had to go through because of his close relationship with Frazier, he’s a figure that isn’t going away soon. Said Witherspoon following the NCAA’s ruling: “Robert Frazier is not going anywhere. I’ve known him my entire life.” One thing’s for sure: All eyes are going to be on Frazier for the next couple years. Is he another William Wesley, someone that rides a prep phenom (in Wesley’s case, Dajuan Wagner) to become an NBA power broker that works behind the scenes on the most important transactions in basketball? Or is he only interested in remaining a mentor to Anthony and Selby who eventually be viewed as a surrogate father like the Tuohy family in the movie, “The Blind Side”?
What can you tell me about Worldwide Wes? David Falk: I’ve known him since 1986. I really like him. He’s a fun guy. He has great talent in brokering relationships. I think he’s probably better under the radar than in the radar. I think he knows that. I think the job he just took puts him more in the spotlight.
For a long time, many were unsure of his role in the basketball world. I know you’ve said that he is someone the players trust. David Falk: I think Wes, early on in his career had a lot more influence than people gave him credit for and now probably doesn’t have as much influence as people give him credit for.