SBJ/September 24-30, 2012/Labor and Agents

WME signs basketball hall of famer and ESPN analyst Mullin

Liz Mullen
WME has signed basketball hall of famer and ESPN NBA analyst Chris Mullin for representation in all areas, the latest signing of a sports personality by the Hollywood talent firm.

WME agents Jim Ornstein and Miles Gidaly will lead a team of agents representing Mullin, a five-time NBA All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist who retired after an NBA career that spanned from 1985 until 2001. He was formerly represented by Lon Rosen, longtime agent to Magic Johnson who left Lagardère Unlimited in early 2011 to work as executive vice president of Magic Johnson Enterprises.

Chris Mullin was formerly represented by Lon Rosen, who was at Lagardère Unlimited.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
WME does not have a division devoted to sports and does not represent athletes in playing-contract work as does rival Hollywood firm Creative Artists Agency, but it has signed a number of current and former athletes for off-the-field and off-the-court work this year, starting in February with New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. Subsequent signings include Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy. Each of the deals is for non-playing or, in the case of Van Gundy, non-coaching work.

Tebow and Howard are represented by WME agents Dave Wirtschafter and Jill Smoller. Urlacher and Lewis are represented by agents Brad Slater, Brandt Joel and Josh Pyatt. Van Gundy is represented by Ornstein.

At WME, teams of agents throughout the agency bring opportunities to clients, be it an endorsement deal, a book deal, a broadcasting job or a scripted television deal. Agents there generally don’t have titles but do specialize in different areas. For example, Ornstein specializes in representing broadcasters; Pyatt specializes in non-scripted television work; and Smoller heads WME’s endorsement division.

WME was formed when William Morris Agency merged with Endeavor in 2009. Wirtschafter is the former president of William Morris and represents directors, writers and actors, as well as athletes.

MLB AGENTS LEAVE HENDRICKS, CAA FOR EXCEL: Three MLB player agents from Hendricks Sports Management and one from CAA Sports have left those firms to join Excel Sports Management, the firm owned by NBA agent Jeff Schwartz, MLB agent Casey Close and golf agent Mark Steinberg.

J.D. Smart, Jim Murray and Matt Laird from Hendricks Sports Management and David O’Hagan from CAA Sports have joined Excel, Close confirmed to SportsBusiness Journal. He declined to comment further.

CAA declined to comment on O’Hagan, who formerly worked with Close at CAA. Close joined Excel in April 2011. Steinberg joined Excel, which was founded by Schwartz, in June 2011. Close, Schwartz and Steinberg all started their careers in sports at IMG.

Randy and Alan Hendricks, brothers and pioneers in the business of representing baseball players, did not return multiple phone calls and emails. The duo began as sports agents in 1970, initially representing NFL players before getting into baseball.
It was unclear how many, if any, clients would follow the agents from Hendricks and CAA to Excel. Clients are often co-represented by more than one agent at Hendricks and CAA. As a practical matter, players often go with the agent with whom they have the closest relationship.

One MLB agent who is not affiliated with Excel, Hendricks or CAA said that in the baseball world agents will want to see which players may follow Smart, Murray and Laird to Excel. “Those guys represent 15 major leaguers,” said this agent, who asked for anonymity because he didn’t want to be publicly identified talking about his competitors’ business interests.

Smart has been representing Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, last year’s National League Cy Young winner.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.

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