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Questionable Character Attracts Questionable Characters

July 29, 2009
(Nice profile picture, Pelinka. It’s not douchey at all.)

Every time FB opens his yapping piehole, my two reactions are “STFU!” and a kind of surprise that his agent doesn’t tell him to STFU. But it’s clear by now that his agent, Rob Pelinka, has to be completely on board with this “I would love to play in X city and DWade is my Valentine” world tour strategy FB has been giving 115% to.

Many people remember that FB’s original agent dropped FB after he reneged on his verbal commitment to the Cavs due to the firestorm of criticism from the press, other agents, and people around the league, and concerns that “Boozer’s betrayal would sully the reputation of the agency [SFX] and prevent them from conducting good faith negotiations with league owners in the future.” (It was the first time that SFX ever fired a client.) However, few remember/know that Pelinka was that agent, and he quietly asked FB back just weeks later, and re-signed FB as a client as soon as people stopped talking about it.

Less than a year after all this went down, the CEO of SFX and arguably the most influential agent in sports, Arn Tellum*, left for Wasserman Media Group and took all his clients with him. Pelinka was the only SFX agent excluded from the deal: Wasserman Chair and CEO Casey Wasserman said at the time, “It is safe to say that if I wanted Rob Pelinka and his clients to be part of this acquisition they would have been. This was not an accident.” Being the only guy left, Pelinka was promoted to SFX President.

Because SFX had dropped FB as a client, he wasn’t required to pay the 4% agent’s fee (around $3 mill) on his Jazz contract. However, CeCe told Esquire that they’d put that money away and would pay it to Pelinka if he ever started his own firm, and that “we’re not going to see one cent going to SFX.” [Incidentally, the Esquire article also said that Boozer’s ass would not be out of place on a horse. How apt.] Pelinka responded by saying that he had “no idea” why she said that…

…though he possibly had a better idea than he was letting on. After SFX fired FB, Pelinka told him, “I’m going to have to stay; I can’t go out on my own.” Now, with Boozer promising him 3 mill, he somehow found a way to go out on his own, establishing the Landmark Sports Agency. On Landmark’s website, it lists its “Vision,” which includes

To foster integrity and intelligence in decision-making — legally, professionally and ethically.

That Pelinka, he’s always good for a laugh. (Seriously, this guy make Sap’s agents seem likeable in comparison.)

Pelinka’s client list is a veritable who’s who of questionable characters, shady contract dealings, and injury–players like K*be, Maggette, Sashagirl Vujacic, Fisher, Kaman, and Gerald Wallace. In sum: questionable character attracts questionable characters.** Let the FB debacle be a lesson to any team considering a Pelinka player. Don’t expect integrity or intelligence, professionalism or adherence to ethics. Do expect him to tell his client to opt in and then demand a trade. Do expect him to stand idly by and watch his client decimate any negotiation leverage. What does he care? They’ve both been paid.

*Tellum was named the most influential agent in sports by the Sports Business Journal and the Sporting News in 2006. He was also the only NBA player agent named to The Sporting News “50 Most Influential People in Sports Business” in 2004 and 2005 and was recognized as the industry’s top agent by the magazine from 2003-2006 (source); Wasserman currently represents around 50 NBA players.

**Expecting to go somewhere between 9th and 19th in the first round of the draft, Boozer left Duke after his junior year. However, he wasn’t selected until mid-way through the second round. Who convinced Boozer that he was possibly a lottery pick, and that it was a good idea to leave Duke early? Who was his agent? You guessed it. It was Pelinka.

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