For all the public speculation about LeBron’s free agency, one could only imagine the inner workings between his camp and all the interested parties vying for his services. Usually, we’d never hear about what really went down until years after the fact, when the books about ‘Bron’s career would begin to surface. Thanks to the sped up nature of investigative journalism & insiders who are willing to help fill in the blanks, backstories are able to be delivered now almost in real time.
Adrian Wojnarowski over at Yahoo! Sports goes all the way back to the Beijing Olympics, where the seeds were planted for what transpired a few weeks ago. For all the insights into LeBron’s personality & him rubbing Team USA officials the wrong way, LeBron’s desires to play with his superstar pals and the Cavaliers bending over backwards to appease the desires of the proclaimed king. One of the most interesting part (to me at least) had to with the power struggle between Maverick Carter & William Wesley for LeBron’s ear.
New Orleans Hornets star Chris Paul’s(notes) young son. With James on the premises, rules for the toddler’s birthday party included no photos, no video.
James was close with Paul, and free agency and the possible connecting of the players’ futures did come up in conversation. Paul was unhappy with the Hornets, and frustrated to see so many of his Team USA teammates on championship contenders and playoff teams. James and Carter long had been trying to recruit Paul to their LRMR marketing company and the Rose/Wesley/CAA cluster for his contract representation.
As a prelude to Paul eventually going into business with James, Wesley began working the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets to get them to try and trade for Paul with the strong suggestion that it could deliver James in free agency. Both tried, both failed.
Gotty™ brought “Worldwide Wes” to our attention a couple of weeks ago, but the mystery man has been on my radar for a few years ever since I stumbled upon his name over at TrueHoop. For a man who’s worked meticulously to keep his name behind the scenes, LeBron’s free agency has all but shattered his veil of anonymity.
As Wesley worked front offices, his stature started to rise out of the subculture of the sport and into mainstream news coverage. Carter wanted credibility beyond the public perception of him as merely James’ childhood buddy, and ultimately he could no longer hide his jealousy when Wesley started to get too much public recognition for packaging the players in free agency. Privately, everyone in the circle knew James was leaving Cleveland, and it would be harder for his Akron guys to get credit for the deal.
During the NBA Finals, Carter met entertainment mogul David Geffen at a party in Los Angeles. Carter talked informally with Geffen’s people about the possibility of them attempting to purchase a majority share of the Los Angeles Clippers and signing James with the team’s cap space. Carter even made sure to show up with Geffen courtside at Staples Center for a game in the Finals to elevate his stature as a major mover, but buzz died fast when Clippers owner Donald Sterling made clear he had no interest in selling his team.
After a Yahoo! Sports column detailing the strife within Team LeBron in late June, Carter unwrapped his jealousy and called the New York Times to insist Wesley would have nothing to do with choosing a team. Wesley had unsuccessfully shopped Kentucky coach John Calipari to the Chicago Bulls as a preferred coaching candidate for James, but the Bulls made a run for Izzo and ultimately settled on a less-expensive client of CAA, Celtics assistant coach Tom Thibodeau.
To see how it all plays out from the beginning you’ll have to head to Yahoo! for the entire article. It is a tad bit long, but it’s a great read and will make you wonder why ESPN couldn’t have dropped some of these tidbits during their ’round the clock coverage.
H/T: Touré X