Rich Paul has gone from LeBron James’ buddy to arguably the most influential agent in professional basketball today. He’s done it through luck (he grew up with LeBron), competence (he learned the business with LeBron) and intellect (put on full display this offseason when he basically orchestrated the trade combing his two premier clients, LeBron and Anthony Davis).
Like many pioneers, and make no mistake, what he and LeBron have done to the NBA is pioneering, he also did it without a college degree.
No, Paul did not graduate from college. Do you know who else didn’t graduate from college? Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ted Turner, Ellen DeGeneres, Larry Ellison, Henry Ford, and, shall I go on? Their net worth is incalculable. Their contributions to society reach every phase of our day-to-day life. Just imagine if one of them had rules put in place to slow them down. Where would our world be now? Enter the NCAA, whose bureaucratic nonsense is trying to do that to Rich Paul.
In another misguided decision, the NCAA sent out a memo to basketball agents on Monday outlining new requirements to represent players considering entering the NBA Draft. Among them: holding a bachelor’s degree. That means Paul, who represents LeBron, Davis, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green and others, would not be able to represent underclassmen who are testing the NBA Draft waters. Why?
Because he doesn’t have a degree. That’s it. Guess who that’s hurting? The college athletes. Why am I not surprised the NCAA is behind that?
Paul is one of the most knowledgable, connected agents out there at this point, and if you need further proof, look at his roster of All-Star clients. They wouldn’t put their future in the hands of someone who is incompetent.
He’s learned the agent game alongside the biggest star of this generation from the smartest people in the industry. Now he’s helping reshape the league and giving players exactly what they’ve always wanted: unbridled power.
If I was a top college player, Paul would be one of the first agents I called to learn more about the inner workings of the business. He’s seen it all while at LeBron’s side for the last 20-plus years. He’s seen what it’s like transitioning from teenage star to NBA legend. Who better to lead a career coming out of college?
Of course, Paul will likely find a way around this new rule. Now that Klutch Sports Group has merged under United Talent Agency, he can have other agents in his team work with the college prospects, while he orchestrates everything in the background like a pupptetmaster. But he shouldn’t be in the background. He should be front and center. He’s earned that right. Even if the NCAA doesn’t think so.