World Wide Wes
June 28, 2010 3:13 PM   Subscribe

If William Wesley says LeBron James is going to play for the Chicago Bulls next year, it is probably true. Known as World Wide Wes, insiders call him the most powerful man in the NBA. And nobody really knows what he does. “I don’t have any clue what he does or how financially he benefits from this. I don’t know. But he’s just there. He’s around. He knows all the pro guys, their agents, the sneaker people, the coaches, general managers, media people. There’s no one he doesn’t know." posted by swellingitchingbrain (48 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
So much for my plan to pool money from other Eastern Conference fans and send him to the Clippers.
posted by drezdn at 3:20 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

But he’s just there. He’s around. There's no one he doesn't know.

Please please please let my life turn out as awesome as this guy's.
posted by reductiondesign at 3:26 PM on June 28, 2010

Counterpoint: Why Worldwide Wes benefits if Lebron leaves. His talk might just be trying to push what he wants, and not necessarily reflect what Lebron is actually thinking.
posted by dnesan at 3:30 PM on June 28, 2010

Stephen A. Smith wrote last night that LeBron is almost certainly joining Mr. Wade in Miami. Just, you know, saying.
posted by kbanas at 3:30 PM on June 28, 2010

This guy is apparently a one-man Sports Illuminati, only, you know, for real, but until this post I thought "Worldwide Wes" was a nickname for Wes Unseld.

/ not a basketball expert
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:36 PM on June 28, 2010

Noted NBA insider Keith McDonald Zhao has said he's 93.4% sure Lebron will quit the NBA and try out for a role in the Akron community theater production of Cats, hoping to fulfill a lifelong dream.
posted by kmz at 3:39 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Stephen A. Smith wrote last night that LeBron is almost certainly joining Mr. Wade in Miami. Just, you know, saying.

I don't know if you were kidding or not, but Mr. Smith is currently a running joke on the internet, for already having reported James was "definitely" going to the Bulls, then the Knicks.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:47 PM on June 28, 2010

Is he like the guy in the wheelchair in Mulholland Drive, but for basketball instead of movies?
posted by The Devil Tesla at 3:48 PM on June 28, 2010

Also "World Wide Wes" is a terrible nickname. Just awful. It sounds like something bestowed on himself by a WoW- and Mountain Dew-loving 8th grader.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:49 PM on June 28, 2010

It wouldn't be surprising if Wes got this one right. It's all right there.

As Bill Simmons said, LeBron going to Chicago is the Michael Corleone move. Going to New York is the Sonny Corleone move. Staying in Cleveland is what Connie would do.

The Clippers? Yeah, only Fredo would end up with the Clippers.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2010 [4 favorites]

World Wide Wes is a much better name than World B. Free.

James really ought to stay in Cleveland. He is a GOD there almost no matter what. Anywhere else he goes his name is mud if they don't win a championship in one of his first two years. You would have to come up with a very very large amount of money to make the man go through that GRAR. I don't think anybody is going to do it. I think he is negotiating with other teams purely to maximize the ultimate counter the Cavs will come up with.

It is hilarious reading in the New York Times they think the Knicks have some kind of inside track. The man is from Ohio. His family is there. His friends are there. When you get 400 million banked you have forgone the opportunity of ever making another true friend.
posted by bukvich at 4:01 PM on June 28, 2010

Any post about William Wesley that doesn't outright mention Henry Abbot and Truehoop is, well, missing the meat of the story. Abbot basically decided a couple years ago that he wanted to find out who this guy is. An entire section of Truehoop is devoted to finding out more about him. I imagine, for Abbot, finally getting a call from Wesley was a moment of justification for the past three or four years of investigating. Pretty much all of the stories about Wesley that are flying around now owe a huge debt to Abbot.

That said, from what Abbot has dug up, and from most of the other stories, yes, Wesley has incredible access. On the other hand, he is, at most, a runner for an agent, and had, at one time, ties to Nike. He's just someone that players trust, and, unlike a lot of people with easy access to people with a lot of money, he's aware that the trust people have in him is pretty much his only commodity, and he's actually doing his best to live up to what the players expect of him.

That, or he is Keyzer Soze.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:04 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

You know what would be even more awesome? If this were about Wesley Willis. Rock over LeBron, rock on Jordan.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:06 PM on June 28, 2010 [7 favorites]

I think he is negotiating with other teams purely to maximize the ultimate counter the Cavs will come up with.

Yeah, he doesn't need to negotiate with other teams for this. They'll offer him the max money possible, which is more than any other team can offer (by 1 extra year and about 30 million), and will let him pick the coach and probably have strong input into personnel moves. Frankly, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert would strap on some kneepads and guarantee Lebron a pre-game blowjob for all 7 years if he'd sign on the dotted line.

This isn't about a bargaining ploy, it's either about an ego boost or a genuine interest in going somewhere else.
posted by dnesan at 4:09 PM on June 28, 2010

And, well, about Lebron, while I realize he's likely heading to Chicago, honestly, I don't want him. As a Pistons/Bulls fan (torn between two worlds...) I could never accept a Cav with open arms. Also, there's too much about him that I just can't stand. The dancing on the sidelines in blowout wins (something about winning with style and or class), or, y'know, the fact that he's a living mockery of the rule about travelling, and the concept of the offensive foul. Picking up the ball, cradling it like a running back, then plowing through three or four stationary, set defenders, but somehow it's a defensive foul? Fie on that, sirs. Fie indeed.

/misses Kirk Hinrich already, pines for Bosh, hopes the Bulls get Bosh, then spend the rest wisely on a decent shooting guard and a solid bench.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:10 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If I never heard the name "LeBron James" again, it would be too soon.
posted by spock at 4:20 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm with spock, and I'm FROM CLEVELAND. Gah, will someone PLEASE take him off our hands already? This is just getting embarrassing.
posted by at 4:30 PM on June 28, 2010

Besides the ego boost, it's also a shakedown of other companies with other money.

The Cavs, Bulls and Knicks can pay only a certain amount. But each team is dialed into Nike and other corporate sponsors in various ways.

LeBron's team is definitely going to the Knicks and saying shit like, "LeBron will play for NYC at the max the Knicks can offer. But he also wants the Knicks to be an all-Nike, all-Coke, all-McDonalds franchise, so Nike, Coke and McDonalds will pay LeBron X percentage more per year. Oh, and can the Knicks ask the NYC mayor's office to name a street after him? He'll take Park Avenue. LeBron Avenue. Make it happen."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:47 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, I don't think there's any chance this will end well for LeBron James. He created this, and I bet he's loving it right now - going from place to place to place to see people beg and plead for him to come to town and play ball... I mean, he's essentially on a "LeBron James Free Agency Tour"..

But eventually, he's going to have to, you know, make a choice. Once free agency actually starts.

And when that happens, he's going to make some people pretty happy - but he's going to really let down way, way more. A lot more. And I think it's going to be really ugly.

You can't parade around like he is to see people fawn over him. No easier way to get yourself into trouble.
posted by kbanas at 4:53 PM on June 28, 2010

That's a fair point Cool Papa Bell, about trying to get more money out of his sponsors. I also wonder if he's out there playing GM, trying to see what kind of sign and trade deals he could get so that he can still get the max money deal from Cleveland and land wherever he wants. Surely he'll want to have his cake and eat it too.

Oh, I don't think there's any chance this will end well for LeBron James.

Well, I think it'll end very well for Lebron as an individual, to the tune of 100+ million dollars. As for Lebron the basketball player with a legacy to think about, and Lebron the "global icon" who wants to be a billion-dollar mogul with power beyond the basketball court, that's all up in the air. To reach the goals he seems to have, I think he has to win championships, and a lot of them. All of a sudden he's a 7-year veteran with no jewelry on his fingers, and he's got to be feeling his athletic mortality.
posted by dnesan at 5:18 PM on June 28, 2010

This is about LeBron's legacy, about LeBron winning a championship and LeBron getting a Championship MVP with a cherry on top. He's made his reputation and his money, but now he wants his ring. This is going to come down to which team is most likely as an organization to go all the way in the next 2 or 3 seasons.
posted by elwoodwiles at 5:32 PM on June 28, 2010

As a Knick fan I would gladly pass on LBJ to have Toney Douglas become the next Rajon Rondo. He just gotta Do What Toney Douglas Do. But what what is it that Toney Douglas Do?
posted by i_cola at 5:36 PM on June 28, 2010

When I'm NBA commissioner, I'll eliminate the ridiculous idea of teams belonging to cities. In fact, no league at all. Just a loosely organized series of 32- and 16-team invitational tournaments played around the country under a common set of rules. There will be no attempt to regulate player contracts, so each team is free to put together the best team it can at whatever price it can afford.

Team Nike vs. Team Reebok would be much more interesting and honest than this artificial bullshit we have now.

And if fans really do want a "local" team, I'm sure there will be plenty of companies lining up to sponsor a team of world class players from NYC or LA or Chicago. It could even be *gasp* actual New Yorkers on team NYC (or probably Team Citi or Team Goldman Sachs).

The NCAA can go to hell too.
posted by mullacc at 5:37 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Team Nike vs. Team Reebok would be much more interesting and honest than this artificial bullshit we have now.

In that case, mullacc, you might be interested in the Philippine Basketball Association, which features teams like the Coca-Cola Tigers, San Miguel Beermen, and Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters.

There's a new book out about the PBA and legendary players like Billy Ray Bates.
posted by kalimotxero at 6:23 PM on June 28, 2010

Who will his mother fuck?
posted by pianomover at 6:43 PM on June 28, 2010

There is a downside to corporate ownership of teams. I call it Japanese Professional Baseball. Since the team is owned by, say, Seibu (near bankruptcy) or Hanshin (see Seibu), who runs the team? The answer is pretty terrifying: middle management. Some VP of something or other of a company that has spent the last two decades running itself in the ground gets rotated into the team president position. Two months ago, he was in charge of sales in Higashi-bumfuck Shikoku, and now he's in charge of the team. No previous experience with baseball, and no idea how to run a team. In fact, the one thing that's been proven recently in Yakyu is that new ideas are bad.

Of course, that would never happen in America, right? No CEO's son or nephew would ever be put in charge of a valued franchise, right?
posted by Ghidorah at 6:52 PM on June 28, 2010

> Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters

Just when I thought there would never be a worse professional sports team name than the Calgary Radz...
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:15 PM on June 28, 2010

Permanent corporate franchises would be just as bad as city-based franchises. I don't want there to be "teams" to own. Players would be hired for only one tournament--sort of how an actor is hired for just one movie (usually). Nike could bankroll a team and put their name on the jersey, but I wouldn't want Nike to have a permanent team.
posted by mullacc at 7:25 PM on June 28, 2010

If he goes to Chicago, it means he cares most about winning. If he goes to New York, he cares most about stardom and money. If he stays in Cleveland, he's just coasting through the rest of his career.
posted by callmejay at 7:32 PM on June 28, 2010

LeBron James isn't the best player in the NBA right now and isn't going to be even when Kobe's wheels finally fall off. He better hope he goes to a team with two other superstars because he lacks heart and killer instinct. He quit, and he let his team quit, against the Celtics.

Kenny Smith is right. Durant will be better.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 7:51 PM on June 28, 2010 [2 favorites]

The Hamms Bear, I agree with you about James and killer instinct. I don't think he rises to challenges particularly well. He's vastly skilled, and can easily crush lesser opponents, but I really don't see him working to figure out how to beat someone who's better, or how to help his team on the rare occasions he's stopped offensively. In other words, he's no Jordan, no Duncan, no Bryant. He's kind of like Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Brosnan was essentially put on this earth to be Bond. Everything about him was perfect for Bond. And, well... Die Another Day?

On the other hand, the most damning thing I heard about Durant (admittedly during his rookie year) was that he was pretty one dimensional: a pure scorer, but getting nowhere near enough rebounds for someone with his height and reach. I don't recall who said it, but the comparison made was chilling: at his best, Durant could be a higher scoring version of Glenn Robinson. Lord, I hope that's not true.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:59 PM on June 28, 2010

Durant went from 4.5 rebounds per game two years ago to 7.6 this year. Pretty good. What really impressed me is that he shoots 90% from the free throw line. James shoots 77%. Jordan and Bryant both shot around 84% over their careers.
posted by mullacc at 9:11 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

LeBron? Fourth with 7.3 per game.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:35 PM on June 28, 2010

In that case, I take back the awful Glenn Robinson slur. I haven't had much of a chance to watch Durant, but if he's committed to getting better, then I have no doubts he'll be an amazing player. He also seems to have a pretty solid team, and a GM who knows what he's doing. Could be good.

Of course, we all know that the best young player is Derrick Rose. I mean, obviously.

posted by Ghidorah at 9:35 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Durant beats LeBron in scoring, rebounds, free-throws, 3-pointers, blocks and minutes played.

/Angry Sonics Fan
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:40 PM on June 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

oh, The Hamms Bear, I didn't know. It must be hell for you to have suffered through the decline and finally, theft of the Sonics only to see them being touted as the great young team in the West. I'd be crushed if it happened to me. Do you still support them? Or have you found another team?
posted by Ghidorah at 9:54 PM on June 28, 2010

I initially thought that said "Wesley Willis" and wondered who was channelling him.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 PM on June 28, 2010

No, I just hate the NBA now. If I had a nielsen's ratings box I wouldn't watch but...playoff basketball...

I was at my parents house for my birthday and my dad had game 3 of the Thunder-Lakers series on. It actually made me physically ill. I turned it off.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:25 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe I'm just old, but when some kid who grew up in the midwest, as a hoops fan, in the right time frame, goes pro just a couple of years later, and he wants to wear the 23?

Sorry, but that's low-class in my book. Plus the fact that he can't play team ball worth a damn and in seven years he still hasn't brought them a Championship even though they gave him the whole team, like idiots.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:49 PM on June 28, 2010

Well, as of next season he'll be wearing number 6, which he's worn for team USA. Whether this is to sell new jerseys, or because two prominent potential destinations (Chicago and Miami) have retired #23 in honor of MJ, well, only time will tell.

I actually don't mind his wearing MJ's number, lots of kids in the 90's wore 23 because they idolizd His Airness. Lebron just happened to be the one who became one of the best in the sport.

I also think that Lebron is very good at playing team ball, but that Cavs team is pretty terrible and it's not his fault that 98% of the time, the best option his him attempting to score. That's on Cavs management and on Mike Brown's terrible offensive schemes (especially in the 4th quarter). Remember, when James came into the league, everyone talked to him as the next iteration of Magic, not Michael, he was famed for his court vision and ability to pass as much as, if not more than his ability to score. But when he came into the league and people realized that his drive to the rim was damn near unguardable and he found himself with teammates picked out of the bargain bins, things changed.
posted by dnesan at 9:35 AM on June 29, 2010

Well James did average 8.6 assists per game last season. Among small forwards, he was #1 and more than doubled the next guy. He'd have been #1 among shooting guards and #6 among point guards.

He's a legitimate threat to average a triple-double for a season in the right circumstance.

I think Kobe has been the best player in the league for as long as James has been around, but I think that will only last another season or two.
posted by mullacc at 10:01 AM on June 29, 2010

I know I'm late to the party, but I'd like to add that LeBron has a massive and close-knit entourage that handles many of his business dealings. The team that hires Mr. James will have to give all these people jobs and cede some amount of control over the franchise to Team LeBron for SIX years (the maximum length of a free-agent contract).

There is quite a bit of speculation that this is what happened with KG and my beloved Timberwolves - KG's friends didn't meddle in the front office, but the teammates that KG liked were given longer contracts and more playing time than were warranted. The Wolves even forfeited several first-round draft picks after they illegally signed Joe Smith to an under-the-table deal.

I'm also a wee bit disappointed to see a link to Bleacher Report on the front page - any schmuck with an email account can get published by that site...this comment cost me five friggin' dollars, so you know it's legit!
posted by antonymous at 5:15 PM on June 29, 2010

antonymous, honestly, the entourage is one of the things that keeps me from wanting James to be a Bull. Considering the iron grip of Reinsdorf, and the recent 'character' obsession (no headbands? Really, Coach Skiles?), I would imagine things would be a bit rocky when James decided his buddies should all get front office jobs. On the other hand, being Chicago, the way is clearly paved for cronyism. It's what we're good at.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:19 PM on June 29, 2010

Now the NYT is reporting that Worldwide Wes won't be in on the negotiations. You heard it right from someone who already has his hands in Lebron's pockets, telling you that there's no room for anyone else.
posted by dnesan at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2010

So has World Wide Wes lost credibility now?
posted by drezdn at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

That's awesome. LeBron to the Bulls, eh? And here I thought he was going to Miami.

Oh, wait.

Wait a minute.

Who the what is World Wide Wes?
posted by GatorDavid at 4:01 PM on July 14, 2010

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