Rich Paul (born December 16, 1981) is an American sports agent and founder of Klutch Sports Group. His most notable client is American basketball player LeBron James with whom he is also a long-time friend.

Rich Paul
Paul in 2023
Born (1981-12-16) December 16, 1981 (age 42)
OccupationSports agent
Years active2003–present
TitleFounder, Klutch Sports Group

Early life edit

Paul grew up in a one-bedroom apartment above his father's store, R & J Confectionery, on East 125th and Arlington in Forest Hills, a neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland.[1] His father enrolled him in the private, fee-paying Benedictine High School, a Roman Catholic school.[1][2] His father died of cancer in 1999.[1]

After graduating from high school, Paul was mentored by Distant Replays owner Andy Hyman on selling vintage jerseys.[2] He would buy throwback jerseys from Atlanta and sell them out of his trunk in Cleveland.[3][2] In 2002, he met LeBron James at the Akron–Canton Airport, where James was impressed by Paul's authentic Warren Moon throwback jersey.[4] The two exchanged contact information, and soon Paul had sold James a Magic Johnson Lakers jersey and a Joe Namath Rams jersey.[3]

Career edit

Following the 2003 NBA draft, Paul joined James as a part of his small inner circle, along with James' childhood friends Maverick Carter and Randy Mims.[4] He would later start working under Leon Rose, who had negotiated James' extension with the Cavaliers in 2006, at Creative Artists Agency. In 2012, Paul, along with James, left Rose and CAA to start his own agency, Klutch Sports Group.[5] In 2013, Paul enlisted noted long-time agent and attorney Mark Termini to run the NBA contract negotiations for Klutch.[6][7] By the conclusion of Termini's tenure at Klutch in 2020, Klutch Sports had a roster of 25 clients, and Termini had led negotiations on over $1 billion worth of NBA contracts for said clients.[2][8] Later that year, United Talent Agency (UTA) made a strategic investment in Klutch Sports Group and asked Paul to run its sports division where he expanded the division's clients from 4 to 23.[9] In 2020, he accepted a position on UTA's board of directors.[10][11]

Before the start of the 2017–18 season, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver had told Paul that if he did not sever ties to head coach Earl Watson, who had Paul and the Klutch Sports Group as an agent at the time, he would fire Watson from the team. After the Suns got off to a 0–3 start, with two blowout losses (including the worst loss in franchise history and worst season opening performance in NBA history) being the perfect cover story in mind, Watson was fired on October 22,[12] and replaced on an interim basis by associate head coach Jay Triano for the rest of that season. This story later became a part of a major report on Sarver on September 13, 2022, which led to his year-long suspension from the NBA and later resulted in Sarver agreeing to sell the Suns and Phoenix Mercury to a new owner eight days afterward. [13] Sarver eventually sold his stake with the team and some extra minority stakes to a new ownership group led by Mat Ishbia and his older brother Justin Ishbia on December 20, 2022, which was made official on February 8, 2023.[14][15]

In August 2019, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) changed its regulations for agents, requiring them to hold a bachelor's degree. Called the "Rich Paul Rule" by the media, it was widely seen as a swipe at Paul for having not graduated from college and for working with a high school prospect Darius Bazley who decided to work as an intern for New Balance for a year before entering the 2019 NBA draft rather than attend Syracuse or even enter the NBA G League like he first planned to do.[9] Paul argued in an op-ed in The Athletic that the rule would prevent people from less prestigious backgrounds, people of color, and those without the funds to attend college from working as agents in the future so NCAA executives could have more control.[16] The NCAA later backed down from the regulation change.[9]

In 2020, Paul launched "Klutch Conversations" during the NBA All-Star Weekend with SocialWorks and General Mills to encourage financial literacy among young people.[17]

In August 2021, Rich Paul was reportedly being sued by Nerlens Noel on the grounds of a breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, and negligence for his role in turning down a $70 million contract offer from the Dallas Mavericks in the offseason preceding the 2017–18 season.[18] The two eventually reached a settlement on January 11, 2023, with Noel paying full commissions on a $5 million deal he signed in 2020 with the New York Knicks and Noel withdrawing all legal precedings afterward.[19]

Personal life edit

Paul has three children.[20] In 2021, Paul entered into a relationship with English singer-songwriter Adele.[21][22]

He was included in the 2020 "Ebony Power 100 List".[23] In 2022, Paul was listed at fourth on Forbes list of the "World's Most Powerful Sports Agents".[24][25]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "An Agent of Change". New York Times. August 18, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Price, S. L. "Behind the scenes with Rich Paul: The NBA's new king maker". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Meet Rich Paul, The Man Who Orchestrated LeBron's Return To Cleveland". Business Insider. July 14, 2014. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Broussard, Chris (December 25, 2012). "The chosen's one". ESPN.
  5. ^ "LeBron James Leaves CAA, Childhood Friend will Represent Him". International Business Times. September 13, 2012. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  6. ^ Zillgitt, Jeff (January 15, 2013). "LeBron James rep Klutch Sports adds top agent Termini". USA Today. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. ^ Price, S.L. (June 12, 2019). "The King Maker: Why Rich Paul Will Own the NBA Summer". Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  8. ^ Stein, Marc [@TheSteinLine] (February 19, 2021). "Mark Termini, the longtime agent and attorney who led negotiations on the $1.4 billion in NBA contracts closed by Klutch Sports from 2014-2019, is no longer affiliated with the agency, league sources say" (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved June 11, 2021 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ a b c Skipper, Clay (December 16, 2019). "Rich Paul Is Rewriting the Rulebook". GQ. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  10. ^ McNary, Dave (July 27, 2020). "LeBron James' Agent Rich Paul Named to UTA Board". Variety. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  11. ^ Stein, Marc (July 17, 2019). "LeBron James's Agent, Rich Paul, Starts a Sports Division at a Hollywood Firm (Published 2019)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  12. ^ Suns Relieve Earl Watson of Head Coaching Duties, Published October 22, 2017. Accessed October 22, 2017.
  13. ^ Allegations of racism and misogyny within the Phoenix Suns,
  14. ^ "Ishbia agrees to Suns purchase for record $4B". December 20, 2022. Retrieved December 27, 2022.
  15. ^ "Sources: Mat Ishbia's purchase of Suns, Mercury to be official soon". January 25, 2023. Retrieved January 30, 2023.
  16. ^ Paul, Rich. "Op-ed: Rich Paul on the NCAA's new restrictions for player-agents". The Athletic. Retrieved February 9, 2021.
  17. ^ Young, Jabari (February 11, 2020). "Power agent Rich Paul launching Klutch Conversations during NBA All-Star weekend". CNBC. Retrieved February 10, 2021.
  18. ^ O'Donnell, Ricky (August 25, 2021). "Nerlens Noel is suing Rich Paul for fumbling the bag". Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  19. ^ "Nerlens Noel Settles Lawsuit with Rich Paul, Will Pay Commission on Knicks Contract". Bleacher Report.
  20. ^ Brockington, Ariana (June 12, 2022). "Adele's boyfriend Rich Paul talks having more kids and 'being a different dad'". Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  21. ^ Greene, Jordan. "Who is Adele's boyfriend, Rich Paul? The singer says she's 'in love'". Today. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  22. ^ Murphy, Nichola (February 28, 2023). "Everything Adele has said about £750k engagement ring and secret Rich Paul wedding plans". Hello Magazine. Retrieved April 12, 2023.
  23. ^ #teamEBONY (February 26, 2020). "2020 EBONY POWER 100 LIST". EBONY. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "Sports Agents − The List". Forbes. 2020. Archived from the original on March 8, 2022. Retrieved July 8, 2022.
  25. ^ "Profile: Rich Paul". Forbes. December 22, 2020. Archived from the original on July 8, 2022. Retrieved July 8, 2022.

External links edit