Rich Paul, well-known super agent of some of the NBA’s biggest superstars that include LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Draymond Green, and John Wall to name a few, actually started out from very humble beginnings.
After graduating from high school, Paul was reselling vintage jerseys to try and make ends meet.
Being a native of Cleveland, Ohio, Paul’s life changed one faithful day when he came across LeBron James at the Akron-Canton Airport back in 2002. ESPN’s Chris Broussard reports that James, a high school junior at the time, being the jersey fanatic that he was, immediately spotted Paul rocking an authentic Warren Moon jersey.
This was the start of a blooming relationship between the pair as James’ throwback jersey supplier eventually became one of James’ closest and longtime friends.
Meeting Paul very early on in James’ basketball career really brought about a lot of trust in who Paul was as a person. The pair bonded over having the same mindset, vision, goals, and overall outlook on life.
This friendship as well as professional relationship with James proved to be one of the most crucial, if not most crucial in building up Paul’s sports agency empire and network of contacts.
Paul would eventually be part of James’ team when he entered the NBA. He was in charge of networking, planning events, marketing, and even being an adviser to the brand James was trying to build. James and Paul, alongside Maverick Carter and Randy Mims, formed a marketing firm called LRMR Marketing.
Paul then worked closely under sports agent Leon Rose at Creative Artists Agency or CAA, who represented James from 2005 to 2012.
Eventually, Paul left CAA to start his own sports agency named Klutch Sports Group. Paul brought along with him his first signature client in none other than LeBron James and has not looked back since. Paul was able to entice some of the league’s stars, namely Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons, John Wall, and Tristan Thompson to his growing list of clients.
As of October 21, 2019, Forbes reports that Klutch Sports Group has been able to reel in $32.6 million in commissions and has $814 million worth of contracts under their management.
With all the attention Paul was drawing from the sporting world, controversy inevitably followed. Back in August 2019, the NCAA passed a rule that requires agents representing college players to have acquired a four-year college degree. Although it wasn’t explicitly stated, LeBron James along with the rest of the sporting world dubbed the controversial new criteria as the “Rich Paul Rule.”
The sports agent seemed particularly targeted as he does not have a bachelor’s degree. Aside from this, he also orchestrated top prospect Darius Bazely’s decision to give up his scholarship at Syracuse University and take up an internship at New Balance instead—as a result of the NCAA’s ‘broken system.’
Paul did not back down without a fight and composed an op-ed regarding his thoughts on the NCAA’s new criteria for agents.
The NCAA amended their agent requirements six hours after Paul’s piece was released. This just goes to show the power, influence, and respect Paul has gained in the sport.
Midway through 2019, Klutch Sports Group partnered with United Talent Agency or UTA who Paul describes as an established global powerhouse with their expertise and resources in the entertainment industry. With UTA diversifying into the sports industry, Paul was deemed as head of the new sports division in addition to leading Klutch Sports—all while maintaining the same autonomy and control.
Most recently, Paul and Klutch Sports have started a football division with the acquisition of Revolution Sports Agency. Klutch Sports has also been making moves in the baseball scene by acquiring sports agency Tidal Sports Group.
Although much is yet to be said about what Paul can achieve in these other fields, the drive he has to empower his athletes and instill in them a culture of unmatched professionalism will definitely be something to expect.
Ultimately, while Paul has established a name for himself in the NBA, one can only assume that this is just the tip of the iceberg as he sets out to take the rest of the sporting world by storm.
The sky’s the limit for Paul as the amount of success he has had so far proves to be an indication of what is yet to come for this titan of a sports agent.