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“We will sign two or three more players and that is it,” Falk said last week. “It is a business plan I devised in 2007, when I started the business again. When everyone else is trying to do what I did in the ’80s and ’90s — build a very large business and sell it — I am doing this because I love it and want to structure it for myself where it is rewarding and fun.”
Falk was arguably the most powerful sports agent of the 1990s, when FAME represented dozens of NBA star players, including Michael Jordan. Falk sold FAME to the former SFX Sports in 1998 for more than $120 million.
When he restarted FAME years later, Falk didn’t set out to replicate the prior practice. Rather, the goal was to create a firm that would serve about 10 really good basketball players whom he also likes personally. Falk said he talks to all of his player clients about four or five times a week.
Since 2007, Falk has signed seven first-round draft picks, including Boston forward Jeff Green and Indiana center Roy Hibbert. He also still represents three players from before he relaunched FAME: Juwan Howard, Mike Bibby and Elton Brand.
As for Porter, he was ranked No. 3 last week by website NBADraft.net and No. 6 by DraftExpress.com in its mock drafts.
“Otto is an old-school basketball player,” Falk said. He also called him “a multidimensional player.” According to Falk, Porter interviewed two agents from other, larger agencies before selecting FAME, but Falk did not name those firms.
Falk also represents Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III as well as his father, former Georgetown coach John Thompson Jr. He has represented Georgetown players going back decades as well, including former player Patrick Ewing, the No. 1 pick in the 1985 draft, and currently Green, Hibbert and Detroit Pistons forward/center Greg Monroe. Falk said his experience in representing the Thompsons as well as Georgetown players was a factor in signing Porter, who will train at Georgetown up to the draft.
Porter has a trading-card deal with Panini, Falk said, but he is not seeking other marketing deals until after the draft. “The marketing stuff will come after we know what city he is in,” Falk said.
> ASM SIGNS PROSPECTS, VETS: ASM Sports, the basketball representation firm founded by NBA agent Andy Miller, has signed prospects for the NBA draft, including Russian guard/forward Sergey Karasev, one of the top European prospects. Karasev, who plays for Triumph Lyubertsy in the Russian Professional Basketball League, was ranked No. 25 by NBADraft.net and No. 19 by DraftExpress.com in mock drafts last week.
Additionally, ASM has signed Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas, Florida forward Erik Murphy, Temple guard Khalif Wyatt, Louisville guard Peyton Siva, Miami guard Durand Scott, UCLA guard Larry Drew II, Minnesota forward Trevor Mbakwe, and Kansas guards Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford.
Miller, Stephen Pina, Andrew Vye, Justin Zanik, Steve Banks and J.R. Hensley will represent the players.
ASM also signed two NBA veterans in recent weeks: Philadelphia 76ers forward/center Lavoy Allen and New Orleans Pelicans guard Brian Roberts. Miller will represent the players. Allen was formerly represented by Relativity Sports. Roberts was formerly represented by Interperformances.
> TLA LAUNCHES DIVISION: The Legacy Agency, which specializes in representing MLB players on the field and talent marketing for a variety of athletes and sports personalities off the field, has launched a property and events division and has hired Nelson Peña as a senior vice president. Peña formerly worked for Major League Baseball, where he managed corporate sponsorships in Latin America, including the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Panama.
“We are not looking to become an events and property company, but it’s a logical extension to utilize our existing relationships, contacts and skill sets to develop a new line of business,” said TLA Chief Executive Officer Mike Principe. The first event the new division will host is a hospitality event featuring baseball player clients as well as baseball legends around the MLB All-Star Game in New York, he said.
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National Basketball Players Association officials met with NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr and MLB Players Association Executive Director Michael Weiner last month as part of their effort to find a new head for the players union.
“The process has started, and for anyone to think we are not moving forward is inaccurate,” said Jerry Stackhouse, a member of the NBPA executive committee. But Stackhouse added that players are in “no rush” to replace the former executive director, Billy Hunter.
Responding to reported frustration over the pace of the selection process, Stackhouse said leaders want to take their time in rebuilding the union and involve players.
“A union is, and what it should be, is for the players, and that hasn’t happened in recent times,” he said.
NBPA leaders voted unanimously to fire Hunter on Feb. 16, after an independent investigation found that he had acted in his own interests and against players’ interest in running the union.
Last week, Hunter sued the NBPA and President Derek Fisher for defamation and breach of contract stemming from his dismissal.
Stackhouse and Ron Klempner, who is the NBPA’s deputy general counsel and who has been acting executive director since Hunter was fired, attended a meeting with Fehr and Weiner at the MLBPA headquarters in Manhattan in April. In addition to Fehr and Weiner, Tony Clark, a former MLB first baseman who is now MLBPA director of player relations, and Mathieu Schneider, a former NHL defenseman who is now the NHLPA special assistant to the executive director, also attended the meeting.
Both Fehr and Weiner confirmed that the meeting occurred but declined further comment.
Fehr’s name has been mentioned as a potential successor to Hunter, but he reaffirmed last week that he intends to stay at the NHLPA.
Stackhouse said he was seeking information on how unions are run, as well as the processes unions have used to elect an executive director. News of the meeting comes as some NBA agents have privately been grumbling that nothing was happening in the search for a new union leader. Stackhouse, who is represented by Excel Sports Management founder Jeff Schwartz, said that was not the case.
He added that he and other executive committee members have been gathering information and meeting with various people, including search firms and potential candidates, since February.
Stackhouse said he has met with about 50 people, including three executive search firms, but would not reveal details. He said the NBPA would likely pick a search firm, but their intent is to get input from all players on what kind of person they want to lead the NBPA before hiring a firm. “Until we decide what we want our union to look like, what do we need a search firm for?” Stackhouse said.