Emoni Bates, Rich Paul Lawsuit, Jake Paul + Dan Wetzel | Crooked Media
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August 31, 2021
Emoni Bates, Rich Paul Lawsuit, Jake Paul + Dan Wetzel

In This Episode

 This week on Takeline, Jason and Renee react to the Jake Paul and Tyron Woodley fight and give their thoughts on the news that Nerlens Noel is suing Rich Paul. Later in the show, Renee and Jason talk to Dan Wetzel about five-star high school basketball player Emoni Bates committing to the University of Memphis. Finally, Take Survivor is back!


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Jason Concepcion: I mean, that’s the ironic thing, right, is like $200,000 that he didn’t pay and he’ll pay that more than that in lawyer fees.


Renee Montgomery: He might have already paid that. He might already be at the 200 K threshold because, you know, he’s not going to get a lawyer that’s down the street, mom and Pop, better call Saul like he’s going to get a high-powered lawyer. We’ve seen what happens sometimes, though, with lawsuits. One person comes forward in a MeToo movement and then we see a lot of different cases. Well—


Jason Concepcion: My God, that would be fascinating.


Renee Montgomery: If there are some disgruntled other players and they see, OK, Nerlens took that first step. I’m curious to see if if anybody joins in. I’m just saying I’ve seen it happen before.


Jason Concepcion: Further proof that we live in the absolute worst simulation of reality ever: Sunday night fight fans when the competition of their lives to find a free stream of the very hyped and overwhelming letdown of an exhibition fight between YouTuber Jake Paul and former MMA fighter Tyron Woodley. Oh, my gosh, for those that weren’t willing to shell out the $60—$60!—or hunt through the dark web of cancer sites for a free feed, Paul Air quotes one in a split decision. The likelihood of a rematch is uncertain at this point because man, yeah, now I watch the fight in. My initial thoughts were, oh, God, why are we doing this for ourselves, Renee? I know you watch the fight. I know we all watch the fight. I know against our better judgment, we all watch the fight. What are your thoughts?


Renee Montgomery: OK, so I have so many thoughts, but my first thought is I have to confess, I was the group that bought the $60 and I watched the fight. And what my thoughts are is that boy oh boy, do those Paul brothers know how to put on a show. Like that’s just my overwhelming thoughts watching it, because everyone knows that people don’t want to like the Paul brothers. People are actually, a lot of people are actually watching to see one of the Paul brothers get knocked out. However, however, the Paul brothers are making a fortune along the way. Like so along the way of everyone rooting against them or hating them or whatever the case may be, they have fans, too, because Cleveland packed the house. So obviously, no, there’s a big following there too, 17 million followers. Some people got to love them! But I think what they’re doing so well is that every fight, everyone says the same thing, Jason, that you said: I’m not watching the next one, I’m done with it! I heard that after the last fight. And here we are again talking about this fight. So what I’ll say to that is, everybody better calm down about that they’re not watching anymore, because as soon as he picks somebody interesting, then it’s like, oh! Because we were all very interested in this MMA fighter. A lot of people thought Woodley was the guy to do it.


Jason Concepcion: This is the guy, he’s trained. This is a dangerous guy. As my good friend Jamelle Johnson, NonProfit Comic on Twitter and elsewhere, tweeted. So basically, like the Paul brothers have run out of the different version of the guy who looks like he can fight but can’t. And that was what happened with Tyron Woodley. This is so, this is a fourth in a row fight for Jake Paul, fourth win. Former fight against Ben Askrin, the former very, very sad fight against Heath Robinson and then TK overs Ali Eson Gib. I got to say, a couple of just random thoughts. First, man, I was like Woodley man, you got to throw a punch. I think he threw six punches in the first round and I was just like—


Renee Montgomery: He was scared of going viral the wrong way, you could just see it.


Jason Concepcion: You’re exactly right. He didn’t want the Nate Robinson thing to happen to him. He didn’t want to see the Lion King, with him in it—


Renee Montgomery: Exactly! He didn’t want to be a meme. And I mean, hello, you would be a meme.


Jason Concepcion: I agree. But here’s the thing. Let me tell you, if I got knocked out by Jake Paul or Logan Paul, either one, and they were mems of me, you could, there would be, of course, copious video evidence, millions of witnesses. I would say, that’s not me. I don’t care how hard the evidence is.


Renee Montgomery: What!? Jason!


Jason Concepcion: I would deny it to my grave that that was me. I would just become another person, and say that never happened.


Renee Montgomery: Well you know what, you could say that’s Manny Pacquiao. You could say that was Manny Pacquiao and people might believe you.


Jason Concepcion: And the other thing is man, so I’m watching the fight and Logan all of a sudden appears at the desk and is doing a, doing an interview in his street clothes, sunglasses, I think. And I was like, hold on a second, didn’t he have to fight. Like, why is he, is he, doesn’t he have to warm up? Isn’t he fighting, like right now?


Renee Montgomery: They’re two different people!


Jason Concepcion: And then I was like, oh that’s right. Logan Paul. And Jake Paul, they’re too, and they do look extremely similar. That was that was my bet.


Renee Montgomery: They are brothers.


Jason Concepcion: And I you know, I just feel like, is this rigged? Like Woodley rocked him at one point, Woodley rocked him. And it was Zach, because he was saved by the bell. Like I thought he was going to go, Woodley could have pressed it a little bit. But you’re right, again, like he was afraid of getting touched. But, man, it is—


Renee Montgomery: Jason, in sports we have a saying and I know it’s an entertainment as well: scared money, don’t make no money.


Jason Concepcion: That’s right. You can’t run from the sport.


Renee Montgomery: In sports you can, you can never be scared in sports. It doesn’t work. Like it doesn’t matter what you’re scared of. If you’re scared of getting crossed over and being embarrassed, you are going to get crossed over and be embarrassed because you’re going be playing a certain way. If you’re scared of missing the big game winner, you will miss the big game winner. You have to crave that. You have to want that moment. It’s like the mamba mentality. That’s, they gave it a name. So when I saw Woodley, with his dukes up and his stance—


Jason Concepcion: It’s a lot, my head dipped. my chin hit my chest.


Renee Montgomery: I, when I saw that stance I said—OK! Exactly! Exactly. We all knew what we were looking at. We was looking to scared money and like not saying he’s scared of Jake Paul. He was scared of the Internet. We are the problem of what he’s scared of.


Jason Concepcion: We are the problem.


Renee Montgomery: Think about what happened to Nate Robinson. It wasn’t that one day viral moment. Nate Robinson just kept going and going and the memes kept going. And so when Woodley had his dukes up, all he wanted was to not be Nate Robinson. You can’t win like that. I’m sorry. You just can’t win with scared money.


Jason Concepcion: He said after the fight, quote, “I feel like I won the fight.” I wish that was true. He won one round, maybe two, but definitely did not win the fight. Continuing the quote, “I feel like Jake is a great opponent. I came in great shape because I knew he could take a punch. No disrespect, but fuck the fury fight. Jake and I can run it back. Nobody is going to sell a pay-per-view like we did.” I, you know, so he’s referencing Tommy Fury, the very handsome Tommy Fury, brother of heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. I gotta say, I think that this is the purest form of boxing, the sport of boxing for a long time—listen, there’s great craftsman, crafts-people in the, in the boxing game. And obviously and they give their heart and soul and their blood and their bodies to it. But the various belts, the various leagues have always been kind of a joke. Ever since the people started uniting the belts and the various machinations that different promoters went through to make that happen, to build this excitement—everyone knows what it is. And it’s kind of a sham. It’s a structure that is based on giving people three fights of the same fight—like the first fight and then two sequels if it hits. This is the purest version of what it is. It’s we want to see someone we hate get knocked out. That’s it. And they did a great job of picking the fighter this time, because even if you’re not following this, you understood what the branding was. Oh, this is the first real threat that they faced. I love that that’s the way they framed it even Jake before the fight said, oh, this is the toughest challenge, this guy can really. It is a tacit acknowledgment that all those previous fights were absolute horseshit. None, like none of them were ever a threat is the subtext. This one is the one where all of a sudden I could get, I could get knocked out. And then as the bell rang, it was obvious that was not the case and they got us again! But it is the purest version of the, of the sport, which is I want to see somebody get knocked down and preferably this person that I don’t like, that annoys me.


Renee Montgomery: So, Jason, having said that, will we continue to watch until he gets knocked out or an after? Because it’s like, yeah, everyone’s waiting to watch to see when he gets knocked out. I think that this is there’s no end date to this Paul train, in a sense of let’s say he gets knocked out, right? He gets knocked out. Everybody’s excited. He’s doing his comeback fight. Like there’s that’s just how it works. So at the end of the day, you mentioned something I don’t, Tommy Fury, I was surprised at how handsome he was. I was like casually watching. I came in late on the fight, you know, I didn’t watch the undercard, but I came in late when they were doing a recap and I heard all this noise about Tyson Fury’s brother. And I’m like, oh, that’s an interesting like story line there. And then they showed his brother, and I was like, oh, wow! His brother looks like he could be a Calvin Klein model. And then I found out that he was on one of those Paradise of Love shows maybe, or I don’t know if Caroline, one of our producers, was joking, but he looks like he could be on one. I’m going to, like just I’ve seen people go viral for less reason. I don’t know if you remember Prison Bae, who now is a full-time real model making real money. If Tommy Fury keeps going, like I think that that fight would sell. Tommy Fury and Jake Paul, where it would be like they would sell other things, too. Like, I don’t know. I’m just saying I know Woodley wants that second fight, I don’t know if it’s worth the tattoo Woodley. I’m just saying, don’t do it!


Jason Concepcion: That’s the crazy, you can’t get a tattoo.


Renee Montgomery: Don’t do it! You can’t. Like that’s the YouTube games.


Jason Concepcion: My friend Van Lathan tweeted, I swear on my ancestors. I won’t watch the next one. Bookmark this. I feel like a lot of us feel the same way. And I will say to all of us, as I texted to Van, y’all lying. You are lying.


Renee Montgomery: Facts.


Renee Montgomery: Jason. We have some spicy NBA news to talk about. And it’s not a trade, a super team or a new documentary where a former player reveals something we didn’t know before. Nerlens Noel is currently suing super agent Rich Paul, who reps LeBron James, Anthony Davis, you know, my Hawks superstar, Trae Young, all of those big talents. But in a lawsuit, Noel alleges that Rich Paul gave him poor advice to turn down a $70 million contract.


Jason Concepcion: Oh, my God.


Renee Montgomery: $70 million when he played for the Mavs, and after his thumb injury, which tanked his season. Now he’s alleging that Paul lost interest in Noel and didn’t propose any ideas on how to secure a long term contract. All this to say the business of basketball can be a bit messy at times. But Jason, do we think that a player can even win a case like this? I mean, we know that there’s a case out there, but there’s a lot of implications about this case. I just understand, you know, from my personal experience, you always want to be A-one on an agent’s list. Like, you know, everyone knows in agencies there’s a pecking order. You know, their favorites. You know, the people that get first rights of refusal of the deals. That’s exactly those people, a LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Trae Young. But we’re talking about contracts and attention. He feels like, he said they lost interest. Is there something there with a case like this?


Jason Concepcion: It’s interesting because knowing a little bit about the agent’s world, there’s basically two routes you can go. You can go with a juggernaut like CAA or UTA or—


Renee Montgomery: WME.


Jason Concepcion: Any of the others, yeah. WME, any of the big ones. Or you can go with a more boutique agency. And there’s pros and cons of both. If you’re with this behemoth, there is a lot of synergy from inside the agency because your agents say, oh, we also rep so-and-so over here and they’re working on this project that’d be great for you and blah, blah, blah. And all of a sudden you can you can find opportunities that way and theoretically at least, that you can leverage the weight of this agency that that will help you in deals. The downside is, as you noted, you lost in the shuffle. At the more boutique agency, your thought is I’m getting that personal attention. I’m getting that attention all the time. I’m going to be on a first name basis with my agent, who’s going to be my kind of like my friend, and they’re going to call me like when my baby is born. All this other stuff. This is an interesting case. And like, who knows where it’s going to go. I am not a lawyer. But this is an interesting case because usually when you see athletes see their agent, it is some version of my agent ripped me off. My agent took money that they weren’t supposed to or went and, you know, opened a credit card that they weren’t supposed to. You know, Darrelle Revis is a good example of this, he sued his agent, because the allegation was he agent ripped him off. This is different, because you’re basically, you’re basically just saying, you know, Klutch, stopped trying hard. And that’s a hard thing to prove. I would imagine what they do is they would subpoena, you know, text message records and emails and say, OK, look at a similar player to Nerlens and look at the amount, and in a similar situation coming up on free agency, needing to opt out, looking for a big payday, same kind of stats—and look at the amount of communication that the agent did between teams, calling back teams, emails back and forth, and look at by comparison Klutch’s engagement with Nerlens. That’s just a hard thing to prove unless it’s just an absolute, like, blowout, like for sure Klutch didn’t like return any calls. Now, that is one of the allegations that basically Nerlens heard, you know, directly from teams like, oh, we’ve been trying to contact you and we haven’t been able to reach your reps.


Renee Montgomery: That’s the smoking gun to me.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, that is, and again, this is not to say that that is not the case, that Klutch wasn’t icing him out for whatever reason. I just think it’s really hard to prove and I don’t know, like, what do you think? This seems to me like 100%, they settle this, they’ll come up with a number. Nobody wants to go, nobody wants to go to discovery and have their emails and stuff out there. But like, what do you, what does this mean for agents going forward? Like this seems like it could open the floodgates to a to a really interesting kind of lawsuit.


Renee Montgomery: Yeah. And, you know, it’s interesting because I agree when I say it’s a smoking gun, I think that I don’t really see a leg for Nerlens to stand on, because to my knowledge, everyone kind of knows agents lie, agencies lie. I mean, no offense to my agents, everyone knows that, like even in recruiting in college, I talked about it. Coaches are going to tell you everything you want to hear when they’re recruiting you. Like, that’s just duh. Like we know that they’re going to tell you, like they’re recruiting you, they’re trying to court you. So there’s a complaint that says that Paul, knowing that Noel was represented by his former representation, Walters in 2017, he had told Nerlens Noel that he was $100 million man. Like that $100 million Man!


Jason Concepcion: That was bizarre to have in the complaint. So they, so, basically it states that like that Klutch lured him away from Happy Walters, his previous agent. And this happened like at a Ben Simmons birthday party, and as you just said, said he could be a $100 million man.


Renee Montgomery: 2017.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a weird thing to put in there, because like that’s on Nerlens, that’s on you. You left your agent. Like, I’m sorry you did that.


Renee Montgomery: That’s what I’m saying.


Jason Concepcion: Why did you do that!?


Renee Montgomery: I thought that was a normal thing. Like, of course that, that’s what I’m trying to say. I thought that it was a normal thing that agents lie. He told you you were a $100 million man and you believed him!? That was I mean, like, yeah, you got to have that self-confidence and all of that, but you also have to have some realization about yourself. So that’s why I’m like, I’m really shocked because I just thought that, of course, when people are recruiting you, like, they’re going to make it sound appealing. And when you have an agent and you want something done, the agent is usually the middleman. So if I’m like, yeah, let’s hear what Team X has to say. And it’s been three days and I don’t hear anything from my agent. And then I find out that Team X is trying to get a hold of my agent, and I’m trying to get a hold of my agent. That’s where now, I do think you have a leg to stand on, because busy or not, do agents have a certain responsibility to get back to people in a certain time frame? I think that that needs to be the question. Like, I don’t care if you’re busy, then get an assistant. But if there really were teams trying to make a deal with me and my agent is not getting back to nobody!? Yeah, I got a problem with that. I got a problem with that.


Jason Concepcion: It’s interesting because you mentioned, you talk about like having some self-realization. And I think, like, you know, having engaged with elite athletes, some, over the course of my career, one of the things that that drives them is like this insane confidence. There’s no way to even make the league without it because everyone in your life is being like, you can’t do that, don’t do that, do the real thing, what do you, come on, like that’s you know, like that’s a pipe dream, like you got to go to college, you got to do this and that. And you got to really believe in yourself to to make it to step one, forget step one hundred, to make it. All of which is to say man, advice is important, having the right people. Because what Nerlens needed in this situation and he opted out of a contract that, with the Mavericks, turned it down, that would have paid him 70 million over four years, tore a ligament in his thumb, ended up well first, ended up on a single-year, $4.1 million qualifying offer, then tore ligament in his thumb and lost out on that money. Ended up signing for almost $4 million a year, of which he had to pay 4% to Klutch. Now, somebody in Nerlens’ camp needed to be able to get through to him and say “100 million? I don’t know, that’s that sounds like a lot.” That’s, like almost it’s not [unclear] buny, but it’s in that realm. Like you’re not that. That’s important and I don’t, and I clearly, I don’t think Nerlens had that because man, 70 million is a lot to turn down. And listen, I understand that the difference between 100 million and 70 million, in the words of Dave Chappelle is a staggering $30 million, but 70 million on the table is still $70 million on the table, and we saw this with Dennis Schroder, who recently lost out on something like $75 million in a bid to sign a big, big free agent contract. This is, I wish Nerlens well, but I don’t think he’s going to win this. I think there’ll be a settlement. And I think it’s interesting that this suit is perhaps a response to Klutch’s initial lawsuit against him, which was filed with the union, claims that Noel did not sign his $200,000 commission, which he owed to Klutch for the one-year, $5 million deal that he signed with the New York Knicks the previous season. And now that—and I’m just like reading into this—smacks of pettiness from Noel, who’s like, yeah, you all advised me, I missed out on $70 million, to say nothing of the 100 million—


Renee Montgomery: I ain’t paying nobody, nothing!


Jason Concepcion: —that you that you promised that I was worth at the dinner at Ben Simmons’ birthday party and now y’all want $200,000 on the $5 million deal that is all I get. I’m not paying.


Renee Montgomery: And I think something that people need to realize is that Noel had a combined salary of 12.9 million the previous four seasons. So you got to think about this. The previous four seasons, he’s accumulated 12.9 million in salary, turns down a $70-million contract. I mean, this is, that’s why, like, people have to understand that this is not this is not just like, oh, he’s fine. He has a gazillion other contracts that—no, he has 12.9 million. I know for regular folks like us, it’s like, well, that’s a lot of money, but their lifestyles are different. And so to turn down 70 and you only had made 12.9—that’s a big blow. Dennis Schroder, that’s a big blow because these players, that’s life changing generational money that is now just with one year one split decision, now you don’t have it. And not to say he won’t get that contract, but that’s a lot of money.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, that’s, you know, one of the things this really underlines is like, when we talk about these deals and, you know, the tremendous, obviously free agency generates tremendous excitement and interest from fans around the league and it’s fun to follow, and the money that gets bandied around is crazy. It’s hard to wrap your mind around. But this is a real like, this is a real gamble for guys like this. And it’s not often, with the way the money is moved recently because the TV deal and the exploding amounts of money and deals that the players have signed recently, it may seem like the players don’t lose this bet often, but they do lose it. Nerlens lost it. Dennis Schroder lost it recently. And, it’s, man 70! I would be mad too. I would be really mad.


Renee Montgomery: You now, an agent to talk about this, you know how we were talking about like this does happen often. You don’t see it like, and to the point that everyone kind of understands that agents lie, there was some agent reactions around the league that said it is wild to see all of this aired out. And this is another veteran agent talking. They said: it happens all the time, but it never becomes public. It happens around the draft even, guys will say anything to convince these players to come to them. Guys will say anything! Like, I thought that that was a known thing, that people will tell you anything to get you to sign, like, so I guess the moral of this story is you need a better team around you. To your point, Jason, people that aren’t yes men, people who aren’t going to just tell you everything you want to hear. Charles Barkley talked about it. He said he told Michael Jordan that you got way too many. yes men around you and not enough people telling you the truth. And I think that that’s hard. How do you tell somebody that is your money maker—you know they say don’t bite the hand that feeds you. So a lot of people might take that in a sense of, well, he’s the hand that feeds us.


Jason Concepcion: What do you like, what do you do? Obviously, you have, you have an agent, you have a manager, you’re looking at deals, you’ve played overseas, you’ve got various other, you know, income streams going, you’re on television, you’re on this hit, you’ve got offers coming in—I’m sure it’s not easy sometimes, you know? When I have a thing where my manager is bringing me something and I’m not sure what to do, like I’ll talk to, I’ll talk to my mom, I’ll talk to my brother, I’ll talk to my girlfriend. Who do you talk to when you’re like, I don’t know, this is, seems good but also, I don’t know?


Renee Montgomery: You know, I talk to Montgomery and Co. and that’s what I call my, that’s like my snook, which I talk to my parents because they have very, you know, they’ve been in a lot of different businesses, owned businesses, entrepreneurs. And I talked to my fiancée. And then I have like a group, s nucleus, my manager, my agent. I just bounce it off of people because like, you know, like as the talent, you know, this you make the final decision. But I want to hear all the pros and cons from everyone around me, like what’s good about this situation was not? OK, it has a big platform, but it’s a lot of time consuming. So do I want to do that? You know, like so I weigh it out, I don’t, I don’t play those reindeer games of, I never listen to just one person, not one person can sell me on a thing, like I need multiple people selling me on it and then I got to sell myself on it. He let them tell him that he was $100 million man and he believed that. That’s the toughest part for me. It’s like my heart goes out to him because it’s like, no, booboo, you can’t believe that.


Jason Concepcion: I should mention here one of the more interesting notes in player-agent relationships and lost money is Bill Duffy and Anthony Carter. This is the only time I’ve seen a situation like this where Bill Duffy, big-time agent, was repping Anthony Carter and he just flat-out clerical error, forgot to exercise Carter’s player option before the 2002-03 season. You have to have that paperwork in at a certain day. And he just flat out missed it, and he missed out on about $3 million. And Bill Duffy said, without even having to go to court or anything, I’m gonna pay you back. It’s on me. That was my fault. I will pay back the money. And it took him years to pay back the money. But he did pay it back.


Renee Montgomery: Whoo! That’s a stand up guy. And, you know, honestly, there’s, like this is crazy to commend people for something they should have done. But—


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, right!


Renee Montgomery: In this world of entertainment and we live in, Jason, the fact that this is an outlier is hilarious because this is exactly what, yeah. Bill, you messed up and you should pay the man what he’s owed. But we just know that in sports and in entertainment, the word fair is not really a real thing. Like anytime somebody says the word fair in sports, I’m like, what are you talking about? Like, even when we talked about the Clippers, like and they’re like, oh yeah but Kawhi and Paul George wasn’t practicing every day like everyone else. I’m like, duh! Who cares! What!? I play at teammates that I knew weren’t going to practice. And if they were practicing in between a game two games, to three days, I’m like, what’s going on? Like, I’m asking, yo, why are you practicing? Like, are we learning a new play today, like, what’s? Like, no! There’s nothing fair and entertainment in sports. So the fact that Bill Duffy did something that is stand up and fair, it’s like, wow, amazing.


Jason Concepcion: Read a quote from the, from the litigation, and this is on Sports Agent blog dotcom. Noel stated in the litigation that he had terminated his relationship with Paul and Klutch Sports in December 2020 after, quote, learning that Paul had, quote, “a history of mismanaging and ignoring other clients and costing them significant money.” I’m not sure that that necessarily is the case. This is, there have been other clients that aren’t the Anthony Davises, the Lebrons, the Trae Youngs. There is Norris Cole, Shabazz Muhammad, but this is why this is going to get settled, because, listen, as big as sports is, it’s still a relationship business.


Renee Montgomery: For sure.


Jason Concepcion: And the face you put forward, the brand you put forward is really important, especially in the agent game where you’re trying to get people to sign with you. I’m sure that part of Bill Duffy’s formulation, aside from this was my fault, I’m going to be a stand up person was: if I want to keep my reputation intact and say that if I fuck up, I will own it, that’s important to continuing to be an agent in this space then I have to do this. Because it’s a relationship business and I’m sure that, you know, Klutch wants to keep going in this in this game and Nerlens Noel is not anywhere near ending his career. They want to preserve their, the relationship that they have with other people and not burn any other bridges. And I’m sure that they will settle this before any more information gets out there.


Renee Montgomery: Waive the $200K compensation fee. And I think that’s going to be pretty much done. I just, I think that’s what has to happen.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, that’s the ironic thing, right, is like $200,000 that he didn’t pay and he’ll pay that more than that in lawyer fees.


Renee Montgomery: He might have already paid that. The fact that we know about the lawsuit means that there were things filed, there was steps taken. So he might already be at the 200K threshold because, you know, he’s not going to get a lawyer that’s down the street, mom and pop, Better Call Saul. Like he’s going to get a high-powered lawyer. He’s going to have everything he needs. So, yeah, they’re just going have to waive that fee and keep it moving. But to that point, we’ve seen what happens sometimes, though, with lawsuits. One person comes forward in a MeToo movement and then we see a lot of different cases. Well—


Jason Concepcion: My God, that would be fascinating.


Renee Montgomery: If there are some disgruntled other players and they see, OK, Nerlens took that first step. I’m curious to see if anybody joins in and if so, then we know it’s going to be said. I’m just saying I’ve seen it happen before.


[ad break]


Jason Concepcion: Renee, there’s some big college basketball news with pretty major implications in the way small programs compete with blue chip schools. Emoni Bates, five-star high school shooting guard and ESPN overall #3 basketball player in the country has committed to play for the University of Memphis to play under head coach, former NBA star Penny Hardaway. It has sent a clear message that the recruiting process under the recent name and image likeness rules are in flux. Things are changing. To talk about this more in detail, we’re joined by New York Times best-selling author and Yahoo! Sports columnist, the great Dan Wetzel. Dan, welcome to Takeline.


Dan Wetzel: Thank you for having me on. Appreciate it.


Renee Montgomery: No, we’re excited to have you, Dan. And you know, typically in my era, the highly-touted recruits, like they never really committed to the lesser known programs before. Can you give us almost an insight on how things are changing, why they’re changing, with Emoni Bates committing to a Memphis. We know that the name is there with Penny Hardaway as the coach, but this really captured college basketball’s attention right now.


Dan Wetzel: Well, first off, you would have made a good buck back in the day, would have made a pretty penny. I’m sorry that this didn’t happen—


Renee Montgomery: Don’t remind me Dan!


Dan Wetzel: Sorry about that. But you were worth some good dollars. I’m sure there were a few autograph sessions you would’ve liked to signed, if just that. Two prongs: one is the way basketball players can get to the NBA now. OK, you got LaMelo Ball, NBA Rookie of the Year, he goes Australia, plays as a professional league. He doesn’t go, he doesn’t do college, doesn’t even do a senior year of high school, I don’t think. I think he just went to Australia. You look at the, you know, Giannis. Luka, you know, Joker out in Denver—these are all foreign players. They didn’t go to college basketball. None of these guys are getting to the league—you can get to the league in a different manner. So what are you looking for? Now there’s still, there’s still plenty of players who are going to sit there and say, I want to, I want to be part of this family. I want to play for the name on the front of the jersey, right? I want to, I want to win the national championship. I want to go to Old State U. That’s where my parents went, whatever. That’s fine. I want to play March Madness. There’s others who are just like, get me to the league. I want to get to the league. I have generational wealth on the line here. I’m not messing this up. I’m getting, what is the best route? And then what you have is—and this isn’t a necessarily a new concept—but the, you know, you have the programs to kind of try to give you both. So John Calipari at Kentucky and when he was in Memphis was kind of the first to say, I’m going to care about both the name on the front and the back. I’m here to develop you. He would always say, if I don’t get this kid into the first round, I failed. And that’s as important to me as winning the national championship. And it would drive fans crazy. But, you know, he’s looking and saying, if Anthony Davis isn’t the number one pick after I get him for a year, what did I do wrong? Right? Like, I have failed my promise to his family and to him. And so the ideal is you get Anthony Davis, number one, and you win the national championship. But it’s hard to do. So what Penny Hardaway is selling is that same concept: I will develop you. He’s got Larry Brown, Hall of Fame coach, NBA champion, all that, is his top assistant. He’s got Rasheed Wallace on the staff, four-time All-Star NBA player. He got a great developmental guy from the G League, which is really what they’re competing with on these top talent. Don’t go to the G League and just play basketball, come here. I got that guy who can work with you on skills and work with you in the gym. You can play for Memphis, we can win a national championship, but now you’re also getting paid because we have in Memphis, Tennessee, the Memphis Tigers are huge. They’re, the two biggest teams in Memphis are the Grizzlies and the Tigers. And they will fill out their stadium. And there are plenty of, not for maybe, we don’t know all the deals that these guys got, or that Amani got. It could be FedEx, which is located there. It could be the pizza shop down the street. There is money to be made because you can just be Amani Bates and cash in. So now you have that combo. So you have a kid sitting there saying, I want to be a pro. Well, here’s all these pro coaches, right? But I also want to play college hoops because that looks fun. Well, here you go. But I also want to make money. Boom—Memphis. So at that point do you really care if it’s the ACC or the AAC? Naw. That’s, what they’re [overcount]. Plus Penny Hardaway’s cool.


Jason Concepcion: FedEx, AutoZone—there are some big corporations in the area and surely with the new NIL rules, that played a role. I guess it seems like college basketball, it’s in flux, but basically it’s going to be fine, we’re going to see a strengthening of some different schools depending on what business opportunities are available for players in the area. But what is going to be the fallout for this? Like, for instance, you mentioned the G League, Jalen Green came from G League Ignite. I would imagine if you’re not a, if you’re one of the kind of like lower level G League teams, you’re wondering what this means. So what does this mean in the college basketball landscape? Like what does this mean for player movement? What does this mean for some of the big, the big programs?


Dan Wetzel: Well, so college basketball at that elite level, yeah, they were losing some players to the G League. Now, previously, before they had the age limit, they were losing them straight to the NBA. Right? Kobe Bryant, LeBron James—these guys never, never played. So, if you’re a college basketball, you want—this is always my argument on this— like, why would you push these guys away? You want them. You want them to play basketball. Like I remember when LeBron James was a senior in high school, there was an NCAA investigator that told me, like man, I have got a file on this guy. There’s this, there’s—remember he had the free, he gad the Hummer truck.


Renee Montgomery: Oh yeah, definitely.


Jason Concepcion: The Hummer that, he only mark on his—


Dan Wetzel: Got the Hummer truck. And so he was never going to be able—I was like, why would you not want, everyone in the world wants to be [invisible] to LeBron James except you guys, you know. And you know, the deal was like, the car dealer was like, yes, pay me in a couple of months. I read the paper. You’re going to make, I think you’re good for it. Right? But they’re like everyone flipped out. And he got suspended from his high school for like, he couldn’t, he actually got suspended for a game. You know, he’s selling out stadiums all over Ohio, but he’s like, you can’t have this truck, and the car dealers like pay me in May. This kid’s going to be worth it. I don’t care about the March payment, pay me in May. You know, how much publicity I’m getting having LeBron James drive around in my Hummer truck. This is phenomenal. Right? So there was, there was all that. I don’t know what the fallout is. I don’t know how that it changes. It presumably keeps more kids going to college. First of all, it’s just fair. Like nothing else, right? And look, Emoni Bates was going to the G League if it wasn’t for name, image and likeness. So college basketball should be happy that this kid’s there, and people are going to want to watch Memphis on TV. Their ratings will be higher. The players matter. You can tell that—take Memphis, we’ll just take Memphis. When Derrick Rose was at Memphis and John Calipari’s at Memphis, all those guys, Derrick Rose’s team, they sold out every game and their TV ratings, people watched all over the country because they want to watch Derrick Rose play basketball and how good Memphis was. When they weren’t as good, like a few years ago, the stadium was half full, people didn’t care to watch, all that—the players matter. And so getting star players for a sports league, only college sports could somehow look at it as a negative. I don’t want the best people here! Like what are you talking about?


Renee Montgomery: Right! You know, it’s crazy because you talked about it. You said he would have probably went to the G League had name, image and likeness not been here. We know that the G League team, the Ignite has made their presence felt having that some top-ten recruits in there. What do you think the value is, though? Because I talk about this all the time, I have a saying, like everything goes back to Connecticut. I always say going to UConn was one of the best decisions I made, not for necessarily just the basketball, but for the people that I know now, for the people that are producers. Is there a more of an opportunity now because name, image and likeness are here to almost attach yourself to a school brand so that even if you go one and done, it’s different than going to the G League Ignite, because now you have, you know, the whole UConn army behind me everywhere I go. Is there value to that for players?


Dan Wetzel: Tons of value. We all want, you go to college and you get so much out of it. And I am sure you will benefit from being at UConn the rest of your life, not just in the friendships and all that, but yeah, attaching to the brand, to the marketing, the television ratings, right? All that. No one watches the G League. I mean, you’ve got to be a really big basketball fan to be watching G League team Ignite, you know? But everybody sees UConn women’s basketball at one point, another in the year. Almost every sports fan at least watches a game or they’re aware of what the program is. And so that stuff matters. Yeah, and I think that’s great. And for those kids that want that, all of a sudden the money doesn’t matter. And also, about the extra opportunities. You know, we joke about the money you could have made, but what about, maybe you could have had a podcast then, maybe you could have been involved in this, maybe you could have learned about that—like all the different opportunities. I don’t know what your situation was, but I bet they were, they were trying to monitor where you might have interned or, you know, every little, every little thing. There’s all this whole world out there. I just, I’m a free market kind of person, I just can’t, I just can’t sit there and ever look at someone and go, you can’t have a job because I don’t want you to. Like that, you know, and that’s what they were, that’s what they were doing, you know, if I go to UConn and I major in history, right, and I want to start a business or I want to go work at the Applebee’s and as a waiter or something, I don’t have to go to the dean of the school and say hey can I get this job?


Renee Montgomery: Can I bus these tables!?


Dan Wetzel: The dean of the history department can go, sorry, you can’t wait tables down there at the Applebee’s, you can’t bus the tables because we got this, I don’t, you know. Right? Of course not. Every other kid at UConn worked, and you actually didn’t get to and there’s a benefit to that. So there’s so many opportunities that are out there. I just I cannot see the negative to it. Is there a negative that some fans can be like, well, all of a sudden you are going to Memphis and I don’t want Memphis to be good, you should be going to North Carolina or Duke, that’s a tough break, man. That’s the free market. Every school’s got a community. I think you’ll see recruits go to to smaller schools and be the big fish in the smaller pond. Because if you’re the star athlete—and it doesn’t have to be men’s basketball. It doesn’t even have to be women’s basketball. I can be any sport. I think it’s something like 40, early stats were like 40, mid 40% of the, of the deals were done by people who were not playing basketball or football. Just, you know, all—if you’re a wrestler in Iowa, you’re a big deal. If you’re a hockey player in Minnesota, Duluth, you’re a big deal. I covered Olympics and it was the goalie, the women’s soccer team won the gold the goalie was a sophomore in college from Minnesota, Duluth, and I remember thinking like they were going to have a parade, like this woman’s a huge star in Duluth, Minnesota, but she couldn’t make anything off of it. And it’s like, what did she do wrong? Oh, other than win the gold medal.


Jason Concepcion: You mentioned fans being upset, I was listening to a Spartan podcast before the hit, and they were upset. I mean, they were you know, they were a little mad about it. Emoni had originally committed to Michigan State, changed his mind. This happens all the time. But like you mentioned before we hit record that, oh, he’s never going. Do you have any insight into possibly why he changed his mind and what led to that? He is a Michigan native.


Dan Wetzel: He was going to go to the G League until name, image and likeness came down, and then the combination of the coaching, the philosophy at Memphis, and I think it was, I was always skeptical he’d ever go to Michigan State. I think he committed to Michigan State when he thought he was going to go to the G League. And it was kind of, and then once he decided he wasn’t going to the G League or all of a sudden in college was an option, he quickly de-committed. So to me that was pretty clear sign that he was looking to go somewhere other than Michigan State. I mean, if you live in Michigan and you want everyone to cheer for you, you say you are going to play for Tom Izzo and then you just don’t go, right? It’s a much easier life. So I think that was it. I don’t, Michigan State will be fine without Emoni Bates, and Emoni Bates will be fine without Michigan State.


Renee Montgomery: No. And, you know, it makes me think about Memphis to that point. So Memphis now gets this megastar, a five-star player recruit. And how is that for a first-time head coach like Penny Hardaway? You know, does that add more pressure to him? Like, you know, like that’s a lot where now you don’t get that grace period of, oh, we’re just Memphis, I’m just building a program—you got this big-time five-star recruit out the gate. So is there like now a pressure applied to the Memphis program?


Dan Wetzel: Oh, absolutely. They got the first off, the number one recruiting class, they have another, they’ve they have another top five player. They have four other top 150 guys. Yeah, they, I mean, they should be a final four team. The fans there, Memphis is a great basketball program, but they’ve never won a national championship. They almost won it with Derrick Rose. If you remember, they had the lead, the last last shot by Mario Chalmers, and Kansas forced the overtime and sorry to Memphis fans for bringing this up, but—


Renee Montgomery: That’s Mario Chalmers. That’s the homie. What up?


Dan Wetzel: He took care of it, man, that was a big-time shot. Yeah, I mean, there’s this enormous pressure on Penny and but, you know, that’s why you take the job. I think that’s a better problem to have, people think you should win the national championship. And, you know, that’s why you recruit those guys. And I mean, look, he’s got Larry Brown assisting. I think Penny will be fine. Penny will be fine. We’ll see. We’ll see.


Jason Concepcion: Off that, the movement of Black coaches and the number of Black coaches in basketball is always an issue. And beyond just basketball, actually, sports writ large, but with the NIL rules and clearly with the kind of sway that Penny Hardaway had in kind of attracting these recruits, are we going to see more of a movement towards ex-players, ex-stars being considered for these head coaching spots? It’s been, you know, in sports everywhere, it’s somewhat of a coaching carousel. The same names come up time and time again. Patrick Ewing only recently broke into the coaching ranks after years of saying: I want to coach, I want to coach, I want to coach. Now, Penny Hardaway, first-time coach has this incredible roster. We going to see more of this?


Dan Wetzel: I think so, as long as the guys want to do it. You know, the thing about a college coach is it’s a lot of work. And you have to want it when you’ve made a $100+ million. I mean, these guys are, they’re doing it for the love of coaching. Penny Hardaway did not need the job. Jawan Howard does not need the job. Patrick Ewing, Jerry Stackhouse, Vanderbilt, there’s, you know—so the big, big name guys, you have to motivate them to sit there and say you’re going to take a job where you’re going to work 60, 70 hours a week the entire year. I mean, and you are going to constantly recruit and your fortunes are tied by, you know, which hat does a kid pick. Does Emoni Bates to want to go here, does he want to go there? So they’re very, very difficult jobs. So I think that level is a little different than is there minority opportunities, is there, are former players that—I mean, almost every college coach played college basketball somewhere, but, you know, did people look at them when they were on the court and say, hey, this guy is a future coach—you should be my grad assistant. But for most people, it is an enormous grind up the ladder. And it is relentless. And they, almost every college coach, football or basketball, will tell you the first stories of like, yeah, I made, you know, $6,500 and a stipend and I slept on my friend’s couch and all of that stuff. So these are hard jobs and you’ve got to have the motivation to build yourself up. Now obviously come in as Penny or, or Jawan, you’ve got a little bit more cache, but kids, recruits don’t know who those guys are. You know, maybe their parents do, maybe their coach does, but, you know, you get old real quick when you’re dealing with 16-year olds.


Renee Montgomery: You can read his column on Emoni Bates and other sports stories at Yahoo dot com, or check out his Epic Athletes series wherever books are sold. Dan, thank you for joining Takeline anytime.


Dan Wetzel: Take care, guys.


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Jason Concepcion: Oh, you know what those drums mean, it’s time for Take Survivor, the game where only the strongest take wins.


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Renee Montgomery: Let’s go!


Jason Concepcion: Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Carleton Gillespie and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Our contributing producers are Caroline Restin, Elijah Cone and Jason Gallagher. Engineering, editing and sound design by Sarah Gibble-Laska and the folks at Chapter 4, and our theme music is produced by Brian Vásquez.