“Jay and I spoke this morning.” Paul said. “We are competitors, and a lot of times, the industry puts you against each other. But we compete in one area. … When Jay found out I was doing a book, he was like, man, I’ve got to have it. Sometimes, we want to do everything. Well, you can’t do everything. If Jay has a publishing company, I’ll go to his publishing company.” Paul says he wants to stay in the representation space because “this is the one space where you can change lives,” and his book will be for any kid who has to make the same tough choices growing up that he had to do — and who doesn’t want to change because of material success.
Rich Paul built a career representing others. Now he’s telling his own story, with the help of Jay-Z. Paul, one of the most influential agents in the NBA, will publish his memoir, Lucky Me, with Roc Lit 101, the publishing division of Jay-Z’s Roc Nation.
“When Wes said ‘we,’ people weren’t sure if he was referring to the Knicks or Kentucky,” one NBA source said, referring to his longtime friendship with Kentucky coach John Calipari. Wesley would direct all sorts of conversations back to the school. Prospects from other programs — they weren’t tough enough to handle Kentucky. NBA stars who had played for Duke, like Jayson Tatum and Zion Williamson — Kentucky hadn’t actually wanted them. When conversations centered around players not connected to the school — or Creative Artists Agency, where he and Rose had worked — he’d often close his eyes. Wesley participated in some calls while driving. He went on all sorts of tangents, once making the group listen to the Jay-Z song “Empire State of Mind” because he had played it during the private pre-draft workout for Kevin Knox. One time he changed his shirt on camera, revealing his bare chest to the group.
A week earlier, just after 11 a.m. on July 1, the Nets arrived at the IMG building in downtown Cleveland as the first of six teams to meet with James. Out of one side of a Lincoln Town Car emerged Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire Russian oligarch who had bought the Nets less than two months prior. Out of the other side emerged Jay-Z. “It was a circus show,” said Avery Johnson, who had been hired to coach the team. “We were very excited. But in all honesty, we weren’t ready as an organization. And we were playing in Newark for the next two years — not New York. But Jay-Z really gave a great pitch. He appealed to their friendship and sold New York.”
On his appearance on Complex’s Load Management podcast, Ball was asked about Jay-Z’s involvement in the recruiting of the family to Roc Nation. “You know Jay got to get involved. Here’s the thing. I ain’t talked to Jay. He’s got people that work for him so we have to talk to them first. But he’s done talked to my boys. I just haven’t talked to him but my boys have talked to them. And the guys that he’s got lined up that’s on his team, I’ve talked to them. I talked to them over the phone…but with the pandemic going on, nobody can fly around and get that collaboration. We were actually going to meet up right before everything happened. It was a Clipper game and he was going to come down and watch the Pelicans play the Clippers and that was perfect time but we never got a chance to do that.”
LaMelo, Lonzo and LiAngelo Ball are planning to sign with Roc Nation Sports, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. “This was a family decision,” Jermaine Jackson, LaMelo Ball’s agent, told ESPN. “This is now an extended family. They put together a beautiful game plan with Jay-Z. The basketball game is about to change. They are going to create something totally new.” Roc Nation Sports is a branch of Jay-Z’s music management company, which he started in 2013. The company represents multiple sports and top NBA players like Kyrie Irving and Markelle Fultz.