SBJ/October 8 - 14, 2001/Labor Agents

Shift is on for Cleveland slugger as Gonzalez moves to agent Moorad

In two major agency signings for Assante Sports Management, baseball chief Jeff Moorad has completed deals with soon-to-be free-agent superstar Juan Gonzalez and Cleveland Indians Rookie of the Year candidate C.C. Sabathia.

Moorad is the fourth agent or set of agents to represent Gonzalez in the last few years.

A couple of years ago, Gonzalez was represented by veteran baseball agents Jim Bronner and Bob Gilhooley, but he fired them and signed with prominent agent Scott Boras.

Bronner and Gilhooley, who sold their firm, Speakers of Sport, to SFX in February 2000, were very publicly fired by that company last February after the two agents filed a $60 million lawsuit against their employer.

In that lawsuit, Bronner and Gilhooley alleged that they lost Gonzalez to Boras because he convinced Gonzalez that he should have concerns about a potential conflict of interest involving SFX, arising from the fact that Tom Hicks, owner of the Texas Rangers, was a major shareholder of the company. Boras has denied that he had any discussions with Gonzalez about SFX's ownership or any possible conflicts.

Boras, however, lost Gonzalez back to SFX in the last year and Gonzalez was being represented by a number of SFX baseball agents, including Fern Cuza. Cuza and SFX baseball chief Randy Hendricks did not return phone inquiries about why Gonzalez left them for Moorad.

Moorad would not comment on how he was able to sign Gonzalez. However, sources said that Gonzalez's friendship with Moorad client Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez played a part.

Moorad could end up being the guy with the brass ring on this agent merry-go-round, provided Gonzalez doesn't leave him and the owners don't lock out the players the day after the World Series. Talk in the agent community last week continued that players and owners could sign a one-year extension to their collective-bargaining agreement, in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Gonzalez, along with Chan Ho Park, Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi, are among this off-season's free agents who stand to sign big contracts.

FISHER RE-SIGNS WITH NIKE: Basketball agent Aaron Goodwin, who recently signed Derek Fisher, has negotiated a new three-year footwear endorsement deal for the Lakers guard.

Goodwin said he signed Fisher after the player called him for help renegotiating his multiyear deal with Nike, which had expired. Goodwin, CEO and owner of Seattle-based Goodwin Sports Management, will handle both marketing and contract negotiations for Fisher.

Goodwin would not reveal financial details of the new deal but said, "It's a great deal which puts him up with the top point guards in basketball, and he deserves it."

IMG HOCKEY DEAL COMPLETE: IMG has completed the acquisition of hockey agency Horizon Sports, in a deal in which veteran hockey agent Pat Brisson will co-manage IMG hockey with J.P. Barry.

Brisson co-owned Los Angeles-based Horizon with agent Tom Reich, but Reich, who held the majority stake in that company, will not be joining IMG.

As previously reported in SportsBusiness Journal, the deal did not involve Reich's successful baseball practice, which he owns with partners Adam Katz and Craig Landis.

Brisson will bring with him a staff of five, as well as about 35 NHL players, including Luc Robitaille, Chris Chelios, Scott Gomez, Anson Carter, Bryan Smolinski and Brad Stuart. Brisson also will bring with him 25 clients who are NHL prospects.

Barry was promoted to head IMG's hockey division about a month ago when longtime IMG hockey chief Mike Barnett left the agency to become general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes are co-owned by Barnett's most famous client, Wayne Gretzky.

AGENTS HAVE THE ANSWERS: NFL great John Elway and NBA great Charles Barkley both used their lifelines to call their agents when they were recent guests on the athlete superstar version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Elway called his marketing agent and Octagon co-director of football Jeff Sperbeck. The question was, What part of the human body contains the "sclera"?

Sperbeck provided the correct answer — the eye. Elway came away with $64,000, which was donated to the John Elway Foundation, which funds the fight against child abuse.

Barkley, meanwhile, called Marc Perlman, his agent at IMG, to ask what country Mikhail Baryshnikov was in when he defected to the United States. Perlman provided the correct answer of Canada for $250,000.

PREMIERE SNAGS ISMAIL DEALS: Premiere Sports and Entertainment LLC has signed broadcast deals for clients and brothers Qadry and Raghib "Rocket" Ismail. Qadry Ismail will be the host of "Weekly Playbook," a show airing on Baltimore Fox television affiliate WBFF. Raghib Ismail will host "The Rocket Hour" on Dallas radio station KESN-FM, the ESPN Radio affiliate.

Premiere President Michael Steinberg negotiated both deals for the weekly shows, which will run through this NFL season. Financial details were not disclosed.

Please contact Liz Mullen with agent and labor news at lmullen@amcity.com.

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