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The Owner of the Chicago Bulls Hates Agents (Does He Hate Lawyers, Too?)

Jerry Reinsdorf doesn’t like agents.  I’d say he didn’t like lawyers, but given he’s a lawyer (JD ’60, Northwestern), I wouldn’t want to accuse him of self-loathing.

After losing out to the Knicks for the services of Mike D’Antoni, Reinsdorf talked to the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, and here’s the money quote:

“I also said if this proceeds to where we want to make an offer, we don’t deal with coach’s agents.”

Just when you thought it couldn’t get more ridiculous, Reinsdorf goes and puts his foot in it, swishes the foot around and proceeds to insert his foot right into his mouth.

This isn’t like “normal” employment recruitment, where the hiring company pays a fee to the headhunter.  In sports, the agent’s fee comes out of the pocket of the player or coach.  Reinsdorf doesn’t have to give the agent a piece of the action, so what does he care?

The role of the agent is to secure a better offer and make sure the contract terms are favorable to his clients.  A coach is not a lawyer (usually).  A coach is not a professional negotiator (usually).  A coach may not know precisely which contract clauses need amending or inserting.  That’s why coaches have agents (and remember, agents are frequently lawyers).

To make this more absurd, Reinsdorf, himself, is a lawyer, so he can’t justify this stipulation by saying he wants to have a man-to-man talk without any lawyers.

Why is he doing this?  Possible answers:

  • He thinks negotiations will go shorter without proper representation
  • He wants to put the coach at a disadvantage in salary negotiations
  • He wants to put some clauses in the contract a professional would object to

Would you go into court without a lawyer?  Do you buy a house without an appraisal?

Mind you, this could all merely be part of Reinsdorf trying to play the blame game and shift attention away from his failure to sign someone who originally wanted to work for him.

It could also be that D’Antoni decided anyone that refused to deal with his agent wasn’t worth the grief and just moved on.

If Reinsdorf really meant what he said, he could have a hard time signing a coach, and anyone wanting to enter into a contract of an NBA coach’s magnitude without proper representation might not be who you want running the ship.

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