Klutch Sports founder and NBA super-agent Rich Paul has long had a target on his back. Just last year, the NCAA enacted a rule that seemed specifically designed to restrict agents like Paul from representing college players who want to test the waters in the NBA Draft, requiring that they have a bachelor’s degree in order to be eligible to do so.
Paul, who worked his way up from selling throwback jerseys to become one of the most powerful sports agents on the planet, happened to have no such degree, and the rule was clearly and unfairly targeted at him and anyone else who may have taken a different career path that the NCAA eventually did the right thing and rescinded the rule.
Still, that’s done little to assuage the searing jealousy among his peers. Earlier this month, The Athletic published a piece featuring several anonymous agents who complained that Paul has leveraged his clout and his proximity to LeBron as an unfair advantage to poach players from the draft and free agency pool.
Those criticisms amped up once after the Klutch Sports Pro Day that premiered on ESPN2 this week, a televised pre-draft workout featuring future lottery picks — and Klutch clients — Tyrese Maxey and Anthony Edwards. LeBron, Anthony Davis, and several other Klutch clients were also in attendance. According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, some unnamed agents were, unsurprisingly, unhappy about the exposure they enjoyed.
By this point, both LeBron and Paul had heard just about enough. LeBron’s response was simple and to the point:
A story in three parts pic.twitter.com/XuL3ijhrFs
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) October 30, 2020
Paul offered a more measured and nuanced response, pointing to what he perceives as an underlying racial component to these criticisms.
Rich Paul responds to critics of the Klutch Sports ProDay
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 30, 2020
The criticisms and accusations are unlikely to go away, but the fact remains that Klutch is an industry juggernaut despite multiple efforts to tarnish its image and clamp down on how it operates.