SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Labor Agents

Shaq’s new agent seeks ‘quality’ deals

Perry Rogers, new agent for Shaquille O'Neal, says he plans to get his new client major sponsorship deals with Fortune 500 companies.

"He is interested in quality companies," said Rogers, who was hired by O'Neal last week. "He isn't interested in quick dollars."

Rogers, who grew up with tennis star Andre Agassi, has served as Agassi's lawyer and business manager and for a short while managed Agassi's ex-wife, actress Brooke Shields.

Earlier this month O'Neal, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar, parted ways with his longtime agent, Leonard Armato. Like Rogers, Armato has a small but marketable client list, which includes boxing star Oscar De La Hoya and WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie.

Armato will still have a business relationship and will continue to receive fees on a number of multiyear deals he negotiated, including Nestlé's Crunch, Digex, Ford, Midway Games, Topps, Field of Dreams, Swatch, and a new apparel and shoe deal with Official Starter Properties.

Armato is also said by industry sources to be close to closing a major fast-food company deal for O'Neal.

Rogers said that although a lot of O'Neal's categories are filled, there are still some open. "He is interested in creating partnerships that are more meaningful" than a typical endorsement deal, Rogers said.

A number of major sports agencies were said to be interested in signing O'Neal when the news of his breakup with Armato surfaced. Rogers said he does not know if O'Neal spoke with any other agents or agencies. He said O'Neal contacted him.

O'Neal knows Rogers because he was partners with Agassi in the All Star Cafe, Rogers said. Although Rogers is Agassi's lawyer and manager, Agassi has had other agents, first at IMG and in the last few years at SFX Sports.

"My relationship with Shaquille is a little bit different. I am his agent," Rogers said.

O'Neal's contract with the Lakers expires after the 2005-06 season, so he has no pressing need for a contract negotiator. But Rogers said he has already contacted the National Basketball Players Association about becoming a certified agent because there are other issues, such as NBA fines and NBA player participation in the Olympics, that a certified agent typically works on.

But other than his relationship with O'Neal, Rogers does not plan on getting into the basketball representation business. "I have no interest in taking on any additional clients," he said.

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