E100: Donald Dell
Hi and welcome to the special one hundredth episode of Unofficial Par Sports Business podcast I'm Richard Gillis. It goes without saying that we wanted to find a guest with a big enough reputation in the industry to withstand this enormous pressure celebrating our one hundred show. So it was a great pleasure to say hello to Donald Dell one of the real legends of sports marketing folklore. He was the agent who signed the two most valuable and enduring shootings in sports history, Stan Smith and. and Michael Jordan and Nike is the Yale educated lawyer and former tennis player who captained the US Davis Cup team in the hundred sixty s containing Smith and Arthur Ashe to Megastar's who became the founding clients of pro serve, which they'll co founded in one, thousand, nine, hundred, seventy in an extraordinary career. He's represented many of the giants of sport from Jimmy Connors, Van Lendl, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras Dancy, Carrigan Patrick Ewing, and for at least Jordan. So this is an hour of compensation that moves around from star to star decade a decade taking inside. The room with some of the great characters of the sports business including. Phil Knight Horst Dassler, and Mark McCormack to named a few. If you're a late to official partner, you can go back and listen to our entire back catalogue for free via the website and apple podcasts and if you've been with us since episode one, we're really grateful for your support and interest and rest assured which is getting going. So here's Donald Dell I spoke to him from his home in Maryland Washington, and we're grateful to Steve Harvey of Minister Who Sports or prison touch. Why didn't win close Your. This is four o'clock in Washington as we speak about four fifteen Washington time yeah. So. It should be what I think. Five hours. Think it's nine fifteen year time I think. It is it is. Thanks so much for coming on, it's really It's good of you. I was thinking the other day when I was watching a Premier, league game, and the players are taking the knee and there's a great deal of talk about black lives matters and I told I thought about author rash a Richard It's a very valid question and. Arthur was my first client ever in one, thousand, nine, hundred, seven. The longest client is Arthur ash I'm me Arthur edge and Stan. Smith. And when I think back about Arthur and the protests before. He died twenty seven years ago in February of Nineteen ninety-three. But as you suggest, the problems are still very much the same in. America. And I think when these people are protesting and one thing your audience should understand that in America. The slogan black lives matter is merely. A call or a slogan but what is really changed and Arthur? Thrill. Is that I would say seventy to eighty percent of America. Generally now is thinking about racism and the problems of unequal justice to some and the unfairness of certain things and so it's it's a much deeper movement and wave of people thinking. Then, the slogan is is the only point and didn't end the word floyd murder triggered all that. But when Arthur was protesting, you finish playing many years. and. What people don't remember he he died at forty nine due to AIDS from a blood transfusion in his second heart operation in Harlem Hospital with a fraternity brother Dr who is the cardiologists in shooting the surgeon in the hospital and Arthur felt very loyal to him. So he went to him for the operation I tried to persuade and go the Cleveland Clinic. And in those days, nobody knew really much about age eight was terrible Ill and people were dying left right and center and they didn't. They didn't really know enough as they do now and they have pills and and vaccines and things to fight it. But in one, thousand, nine, hundred, ninety, three when he died, he had had aids for about two years and so people have to realize when he protested in Washington. and. He was arrested twice. and jail mainly mainly only for several hours he was protesting things of how they were treating the Americans retreating Haiti immigrants. They left a boat out in the ocean. With about three hundred Haitians on it, and they wouldn't let him doc and so forth, and there are a lot of political issues about that, and then also about South Africa and so he would lead or be a part of protests in Washington and be arrested, and you gotta realize wearing a hat and he's getting thinner and thinner from AIDS. And he literally still continued to go on marches and protests quietly and peacefully. And yet died a couple of months thereafter. But what might reminds me the most Richard About Arthur? was back in about nineteen eighty nine. I was in Hamburg Germany and got a phone call at four am in the morning from. New. York. And it was people magazine and they said we wanted to get your reaction to a quote from Arthur Ash. And his quote when asked you know was. Having, AIDS in America the worst thing that ever happened to you and he said absolutely, not in the quote was being born black in America. was worse than ever having aids and that was his quote. Which really stunned me understand he'd been on my Davis Cup Team Sixty, eight and sixty nine. We won the cup twice I retired and seventy and had been representing him. You know all those years eighteen nineteen years thereafter. John was very, very close to Arthur as a personal friend. He's the God. is a godfather of the daughter Alexandra. was was working Promo for me. So He's very warmly and I had never ever heard him say that. So I call him immediately after she hung up from Hamburg. Instead Arthur you're quoted the magazine is that accurate? He said absolutely and I said, do you really feel that being born in being born black in? America is worse than having AIDS he said absolutely. And I said well I really don't understand that we've been close for twenty years and you'd never conveyed that way. So when you come back to America let's sit down and talk about it. So I got back to New York about two days later and we had lunch. And he said to me dollar, you don't nobody who's not black can really understand a certain things. He said what acid Arthur that doesn't i. don't follow because you've never told me this we're close. And you're an all white sport tennis. And you know you, you really made a lot of money in endorsements more because you were black in a white sport in my judgment. And also had Michael Jordan and basketball, and we put him in in a Tuxedo. With a with a basketball trying to get beyond race and Jordan was a big seller. But coming back to Arthur I just said, well, I'm stunned to hear you say that and he said, well, let me explain why. And I'll never forget it. He said every single day. I. Wake Up. I have two more times most times. Adjust. To the people I'm meeting or talking or seeing that day. And you know I if I'm with a certain group I'm going to adjust the way. I act don't act because that's the way I was taught as a kid twelve, thirteen fourteen years old when I couldn't playing some of the tournaments because I was black. So if I was allowed into the tournaments when I was thirteen fourteen years old I wanted. To make sure Dr Johnson, who is my coach and told us how to behave he always said, you know be very careful not to offend people in the sports world because you won't be able to play. So I have always all my life adjusted my feelings or sentiments or personality some small some big all depending on the audience I was meeting with. And when he explained, it became pretty simple to me. He had doubts about presenting himself. As, an activist, we talk now that we quite blithely about the athlete is social activists and This is a new thing and he was doing as you say fifty years ago but there was a part of him. That was quite reluctant I. Am I right in saying that you know he was very shy in one sense I. Mean. You have to understand a couple of things number one. Many people misunderstood Arthur maybe for some quiet arrogance because he was very introspective, he was very quiet. And two things first by way of background. It was a speed reader at a photographic memory. and. He had an Iq that came off the charts. So he was a very, very intelligent person far more than many people might realize not just tennis player. So that was one one thing that you had to deal with and the other thing is. His caring about people. He had a philosophy right or wrong good or bad. His philosophy was people are all much more basically good than bad. and. He always felt that way and if somebody offended him and it happened quite frequently. He would just turn the other cheek. He would never go after him and it an attack in publicly and I was once with him I was we were called to a meeting and Andy Young home in Atlanta Georgia. And the late eighties and in the room where twenty-eight throw twenty, eight or thirty. Black leaders from the southern Christian League and from the remnant remnants. So the Martin Luther King Movement. But there are a lot of very young people I'd say most of them all under thirty and there about twenty, five, twenty, eight of them there and I was the only white person in the basement there of Andy home. And as they were all talking about how they should get more aggressive and outspoken in the leadership for full rights for equal rights on for blacks and was very clear and I wanted to go and listen. So Arthur took me with him. And I'll never forget in the middle of it a voice in the background. From Jesse, Jackson was about thirty thirty two then yelled out said, and they were all talking at different times, different groups and he yelled out brother Ash. Out publicly a lot more aggressively and loudly to get our cause better known. And Arthur I'll never forget said Jesse. The difference is I. Do it with my racket not my mouth and everybody laugh because Jesse was very outspoken and is a great leader for their cause but that's the way Arthur felt. L. That he would set an impression an example by the way he conducted himself and the way played on the court and he knew and understood the tennis was the platform. You know nobody's GonNa care what Arthur ash thought. If he was a fourth string baseball player and was not a professional athlete, you're not GonNa care what Arthur Link Dot constituency of Jesse Jackson they were they were urging him to be for. To be more. Weren't more aggressive and more outspoken because. What people asked him race questions which were always frequent. He would give a very quiet thoughtful response. But he wasn't banning the banged the table yelling out of freedom more freedom now or whatever black panthers or whatever, whatever have you. For example, these are real actual occurrences in my life with Arthur. And we we were approached at one stage to do a big luncheon the fair in Madison Square Garden for the Black Panthers. and. He he I said to them I'll do it. And I said Martha that makes no sense. This was when the rights were coming in after Martin Luther King was killed and I said that's that's a mistake. Why he said this way I feel he said because they're going to think you're Black Panther and you know the feeling. Generally in America's they're very militant very violent is a nobody's GonNa think of me as a Black Panther just because I do a luncheon for them and hosted a luncheon speaker and said, I think you're dead wrong Arthur everybody paint you that way. So I talked to him about two or three times. So I said, well, look if you want if you want to support the panthers because they're giving money to children and lunches and so forth they had some good 'cause I said, let's write him a check for fifty thousand dollars. And not do the Madison Square appearance. And he thought. And he's. Okay. I'll write dot the check. I'll follow your advice. Well, it turned out that the panthers never moved forward to have the luncheon. It's Kinda died a natural death and he did not write a check with that's the way he felt he wanted to support him. But he didn't want to be. Like a cheerleader leading their cause and I had some influence on that positively or negatively but. Are there, and I always had this very direct wonderful relationship. and so I was stunned by what he said in people magazine, but he honestly believed that and explained it. Cornel when you then fast forward to people like Michael Jordan Tiger Woods quite often they are criticized for not taking a stand on on the race issue and one of the reasons was their fear of the appeal. Their commercial appeal is that something that you are very conscious of in terms of the impact of making a stand on a political on. The race issue and how it impacts on how that goes down to Madison Avenue or in in terms of brand sponsors absolutely, very, very much. So in the makes by a couple of ways number one. The First Davis Cup match in nineteen sixty eight may that I ever was part of I was the captain the team we lost five years in a row when I took over the captaincy. And the first and Arthur Ashe grew up in Richmond Virginia his father was A. Part, part-time policemen, and a part time caretaker at this park called bird park. Word Park was huge public park with tennis courts and swimming pools no golf. And Arthur Ashe. Grew up playing tennis there. But he couldn't play any matches or tournaments. Because he was black. So the first match, I scheduled just happened to be against British West indies, which was an all black team and I scheduled it in. Byrd Park Richmond Virginia and we beat him five nothing. We could have beaten them with you and me Richard because we had a much stronger team. But I did it for a very limit purpose and Arthur came doing discuss it I said I wanna put it right in your backyard where you couldn't play because you were black. And the crowds were tremendous and the press was tremendous and we won the match five nothing which was not the point. But yes, we did some things like that very deliberately. And you spoke about a Michael Jordan is an interesting concept because Michael is I said the first marketing and advertising we did with him was to put him in a Tuxedo with holding a basketball because we wanted to try to see he was such a good name, a good person never dreamed and. He came out of North Carolina Nineteen eighty-four and I managed him for ten years it with pro serve in my office where I was president pro serve I signed in twice and assigned to Nike contracts with him. So I never but I never realized the enormity and how good he would become a how dominant he would become early on we started and suddenly. When Nike. Contract started selling shoes like hotcakes. In the state of North Carolina. A fellow named Jesse Helms was a very a conservative right wing really anti-black Senator, and there was a a a aggressive leftist running against the mood been the president of a bank in Charlotte. And he was black. And I said to Michael. Let's let's support him. and Michael said I'll give them money quietly to his. Campaign. But I don't WANNA be publicly involved in the famous quote, which is true. He said remember all Democrats, buy shoes as well as a republicans buy shoes, and so I I'd like to take a low profile but I'll support him financially. And over the years when last ans- came out this ten episodes a month or two ago. Apparently some the several of the black athletes. Criticized Michael because he had been political back in those days when he played. I never pushed him to be political because he didn't wannabe. Arthur did WANNA be. But at the same time, I was certainly aware of the differences I am not painting a picture of Michael at all. He just was very commercial thinking smart guy in his mind and he didn't want to ruffle feathers by taking positions. since that time and I think currently you know he's retired for twenty years now I think he is much more inclined to be outspoken and supportive of different. Political. Causes I I'm not close to Michael I don't represent him anymore but I. think that would be the case pro serve your first clients were authorized and Stan Smith she's not a bad I e clients in anyone's. Hands. You had people like Mark McCormack an I g were had been going before that they were sort of fifty, nine, sixty I guess and you're looking at tennis and they and he was very much focused on golf is that right? But some stage I imagine that the must've come head to head many times and mark was was ten years older than I? AM interested enough. He had gone to Yale Law School and he's worked at a big Cleveland Law Firm for several years and then he realized he wanted to start a company because in those days I started pro serve. You couldn't as lawyers you couldn't under the canons of ethics in the law you couldn't recruit client couldn't solicit clients you couldn't do endorsements you couldn't do advertising all that's changed now but in nineteen seventy. Mark was probably five or six years ahead of me and he had set up an organizing just started I am G, and of course, he had three great golfers in. Palm Gary, player and Jack Nicklaus. You don't get better hand to start something golf in those two three and he dominated golf in lots of ways. For the next twenty years. I had a head start with Arthur stand. In tennis and we were about five or six years behind him because he was older and it started sooner but I followed I want to be very clear mark to me was the Pathfinder of sports marketing, I, he and I together where the two earliest ones and we did it together and compete- competed all over the world At one stage where we were going very strong in the eighties and early nineties a proserve serve. We had sixteen offices all over the world because. Many of the Sports, certainly tennis and basketball or global. So we had Sydney with Paris. We had Hong Kong Los, Angeles we had sixteen companies, sixteen offices and about. A. Three hundred employees sports. Mark at the same time had a thousand. Employees in sports and twenty six offices. Why do I know those numbers because we were competing against each other globally? And in the process, our staff became very competitive with each other. We were the first to, and we were there the longest time and then he and I became good friends. we actually would meet. We saw each other socially quite a lot of the same places. In the sports world, but we secretly met every year twice a year, the hotel creole in Paris during the French. Open and it has a New York -partment or home in New York City during the US Open and it was, and we did this for about the last seven or eight years of his life. and. We would talk about all sorts of things trying to keep the two companies. Competitive not killing each other one. One thing that would come up for example was don't steal don't steal each other's staff. I mean, that was a big thing because it's hard to replace. This is all new and everything starting up, and if you had somebody who been working for you for a number of years, she didn't want to be poached by another guy coming in and the only two or us at that for the first I'd say, I don't know ten or twelve years and into the early eighties, it was really img in pro serve and so. He. And I became good friends. and. Later on in Nineteen eighty-five, we filed a lawsuit call against Call Volvo Los Lawsuit. Case. When they were the world sponsor of the Grand Prix Volvo. And they were doing what was called the men's a professional in the men's professional council, which was the forerunner runner of ATP today but it had nine members on it and McCormick and I joined partnership. With Volvo and sued the game because we thought they were passing restrictive rules and trying to get rid of play a player agents. In that period you've got McCormick was obviously a dominant figure. You've got people like Horse Tesla addidas. Is a was a formidable figure and obviously we have to talk about I'm wearing a pair of Stan Smith's at the moment. So we can have to just touch a touch on that but that you've been involved in two deals that the people always reference, which is the Stan, Smith deal and. The Nike Jordan deal. But what was Dassler? Like you you you you often say that he was the smartest guy in the room. Tim's of sport mucking got to know Horst officer very early on In the early seventy and and I'm very proud to. Sam. Ersan, you're GONNA ever meet Richard I had lunch with. Ati Dos and MS DOS or their his mother and father. And already Dahshur I idee, DA He actually started adidas by merging his own name Ati with with a dossier. And that's how you got the name brother was Puma right and his brother left went down by miles and guarded Puma to compete with Ryan US and they. beat ever since then but now horse was their son. And they had he had four sisters. And they were five children, the family and they all when when nurtured were Audie Dahshur died? He left all four -tural off five children equally twenty percent ownership in in the. US Business World. All the assets were left. Equally the company went was split up among the five them. Equally. And the four sisters three of them were married. And the husbands. They all it's it's a funny but true story and Herzog INARA, the headquarters for Adidas. They had five equal offices on the top floor model. And the husband started running of the business for the wives of the shareholders twenty percent, and that drove horse nuts and so he very quietly moved to lander shine. and inland or shine France. Buildup Ati dust, and very quickly. The family realized that he was I think a genius in sports marketing and I thought he always was the smartest and most able guy in two ways seeing an opening for marketing and then negotiating favorable deals he was both and so when he moved to land about five or years later. The her to still ran mainly Germany Audie dos but globally was run by Dahshur himself the son in France and he used to say to me I had to get out of Germany because I couldn't. I couldn't do anything I have to start my own company was owned company was part of Ati dos, and that's what really works strengthened the the company to to what it is today. So the Stan Smith deal was that straight endorsement deal or was that. I, mean, that's that's incredibly. Brand you've. Created here's what happened. I had never met Horst, Stan won Wimbledon in one, thousand, nine, hundred, seventy, two. About September, I got a phone call from a guy named worst Oscar. And he said I've been watching Smith. So I won Wimbledon I like him to endorse. A new leather shoe that I'm promoting in America. And I teasingly like smart Aleck said well, first of all, you can't you can't afford Stan Smith. Was My first comment just. That went down. Well, didn't he? Yes I can I can afford any athlete. And his deal was he had five new distributors in the United States. In Dita's clothing to mainly shoes. That was his main business clothes and apparel second secondary. And so I said well like to meet you and so forth. So we ended up meeting and talking and Stan came over in seventy three and we signed a contract. For Stan Smith to where an Adidas Leather Shoe was a performance shoe, which he then plate and wear or in Wimbledon, and the US Open in seventy four and other years thereafter. So he was playing shoe was knew about it was it was leather made. And it started out as the Robert Hi issue because I was a French Davis Cup player that had been on this you. And that was sort of. Rundown after about a year and it was changed over to the Stan Smith. Adidas shoe and it's been that same shoe and that same design for forty seven well, since nineteen, seventy, four or five. And the shoe evolved we've had. I would say I I like to be exact seven contract renewals with Adidas. Between Nineteen, seventy three. And two, thousand eighteen when we signed the the last Lady Stance Smith Shoe deal. which was phenomenal deal start Stein is still getting. Kit. Checks. In the post from death Oh. Yeah. He sure is in the new one thousand eighteen. Was a wonderful wonderful thing because it's the only contact I've ever negotiate which is They came to me and said, we want a lifetime contract. That meet. They said, we want it in perpetuity. We don't want it to ever end. So the contract. For stand for a Stan Smith today. Is a lifetime contract, which means it's if he dies his children. Take over if their children die. his State takes over. So a fifty years from now. God knows they were still making a Stan Smith Shoe. Or. A similar design of that stands Meshu someone in his State with a statewide perceiving royalty, the edge Jordan comparison is there a different structurally in terms of? The deal Air Jordan was dealing with Phil. Knight. It's totally different. I saw you gotta understand in both Arthur, Ashe's case for twenty three years. And Stan Smith Case for forty seven years. We've been on handshake. We had a one year contract in one, thousand, nine, hundred, seventy, I had the Saint Louis were my first two clients I wrote a three page contract reach of than they were identical contracts each knew what the other. was and when that expired seventy-one. Because we were close friends, I mean, very close friends. They're both godparents are my twins. And so it was very, it was just a normal and we just. We never signed another. Employment Employment Contract or Contract we've been on handshake and. As. I say, I'm very proud of that because it tells you what kind of people. Are Thrashing Stan Smith were and are and Stan I san seventy three years old now. And we're still working on handshake. and. I'm very happy with that and very proud of that. But my point is that with dealing with Air Jordan and Michael, it was a totally different situation. Michael came out of North Carolina as a junior in one, thousand, nine, hundred, four. And the their their team Carolina just one the NC Double A. Championships in basketball beating Georgetown. University. In the finals. and Michael had one more year of. Graduation, it's at Carolina's senior and he wasn't really Dean Smith Call Me. On a Saturday morning. And asked me if I'd like to represent Michael. Jordan and I said sure coach I mean I didn't know how good he would become but I knew he was going to be a first round pick. And Michael, his mother were on the phone with coach Smith in that initial call, it was a Saturday morning and. As it Michael, how do you feel about each I'd like to finish school for a year my senior year. Coach tells me I should really come out. You have to understand in basketball in those days most players finished college before they went with the NBA it's changed a lot of leave after one year because the rules for joining the NBA ball change but. Now, the coach says coach. Dean. Smith says I should come out. So. He and his father flew up to my home and stayed overnight in my house here for two nights and that's how we sign Michael Jordan originally and couple things came out of that. Stay one I realized very quickly. How important is Father James Jordan was to him I mean they were really close I managed. Literally many hundred athletes over forty years and I never had. Many have come to my home and so I never had somebody come up with his father and stay for two days and I enjoyed that immensely and it gave me insight to Michael and he's very smart quick. Thank you I mean he wasn't a intellectual assets but he was great with people had a tremendous smile at a great smile engage. and. So when he came out of Carolina, they had been on converse shoes at Carolina. And we were talking all companies. Data's was very interested in him. We almost made a deal with Adidas for Michael. But two people from Rob Strasser and Peter More to employees from Nike Came into Georgetown in Washington to open a new Nike store you know and that was a big deal in Washington in Georgetown. Opened this mammoth Nike Store and so they wanted visit our office and talk about Sanni Michael Jordan. And I said sure. So they came in again it happened to be on a Saturday morning. and. We four of us met I was there it was in my proserve office David Faulk was my assistant who worked for me for eighteen years of pro surf and he was in the meeting with me and they're meeting was there to marking People Rob Strasser was. A CMO of Nike and a very strong. A seller great seller and Peter Moore, who ironically later on switched companies to Dita's feeder more became the president of Adidas Ten or twelve years later but at this point In late eighty four, they are in our office talking about September October when arguing for a Jordan line of products where he gets five percent on the on his name and they were arguing for Nike brand and they were still paying five percents, they didn't want to use his name as he wanted to develop Nike, which was just getting into basketball in a major way. And suddenly at in this conversation after about forty minutes of sort of arguing back and forth of what each wanted Peter More. Just. blurt out said, well, what about something? Like Air Jordan An interview stopped stunned. But Air Jordan was really created in a haphazard guess by a guy named Peter more saying, well, how does that sound? On the of US elected each other and said because my if you know Michael Jordan News a leaper, he was a jumper who he was only about six seven, but he could jump out of a building. And so his logo is the Jo Jumping Mike Michael. Jordan is the logo on the new. Not New now but on his company. and. So As a result, that's how Air Jordan really started. We signed a contract for five years with Nike that was normal endorsement contract. And then the second five years team we met with. Phil Knight who had gotten to know reasonably well Phil. Knight in those days in the nineties love tennis. And he came to Wimbledon every year because he had both Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras under contract. To Nike. So he used to come to the US Open and Wimbledon every year because of those two players who dominated for about ten years in in the sport. Particularly Sampras and didn't you meet him at Italian open there's a story that you were. You and your wives out and drunk. In. Rome. That is a true story. We it rained. We we were both at the Italian open is I'd say he was real tennis fan when he started. And And he and I went out with our wives in the. Rain. The match was cancelled in Italy and we started about I don't know five o'clock. We're GONNA have dinner and we just started drinking wine I'm not a very good drinker at all I don't much. But everybody was enjoying themselves beautiful scenery there in Rome. We high up on the hill there and and by about eight eight or nine o'clock. We were all pretty pretty loose in pretty I mean we certainly could talk and everything but we're all having a great time and it was a fun engaging. and. So a couple of years later when we got into renegotiate you, Michael's first contract. A David had been involved in talking with them Phil. Knight on behalf of pro serve and myself and and he came in and said, you know I'm really having trouble with Phil doesn't WanNa do anything. Do you mind getting involved and helping I know I know feel socially that's fine like call Phil. And he like I I'm not GonNa, I'm not GONNA do anything I don't know when we're going to extend this. This was early in the five years he hadn't finished. It's about the fourth year and I said look let's just agree. Filled the you come to. Chicago you bring one person I'll come to Chicago we'll get a suite at Hyatt in Chicago at two bedrooms you being. You being one bedroom we'll be in the other end. Let's just you and I agree that we never leave the room until we have a deal. Period and he said done I'll do that and so that's what happened and it took us about a day and a half and at one stage he got upset. And wanted to leave. And I said Phil that's not our deal. You gave me your word. We're GONNA stay to make a deal. And but to cause less confusion and so forth. I said to David and he added young lawyer with him and I said to both of them here's go out to dinner. Go to a movie and don't come back 'til twelve o'clock. Not GonNa let anybody until twelve o'clock by o'clock when they did come back. We had a deal for Michael Jordan a new contract. And that contract was phenomenal contract because. I Wasn't creative genius as just an idea that we had dame is name Ozan product and he got a five percent royalty on that. But Nike in basketball timing wise was taking off and selling and wanting to get into basketball a major way, and so quietly, we had another situation where he got a three percent royalty in a different bucket. For all the shoes in basketball that they sold in a given time period I think it was five years as I recall the term of the contract. And, of course, when that five years was over And the royalties were enormous. I was not involved at that time in the next contract David. Falk had left pro serve. Taken Michael with him. So he really was very involved in the next negotiation. After ten years, and in that situation, they signed a long term contract. Phil didn't WanNa pay royalties anymore what he wanted to start a new company with Michael. And in partnership and that companies called Jump Inc.. The reason I know all this because I was involved in the litigation with David and certain things he had to disclose when he left with Jordan, which obviously was a great blow to me. Personally and AM business wise. But in any event, the third contract created a company called jumping with with which is owned by Michael Ninety and. that's the jump logo and I think it's today a two billion dollar company. So that shows you a couple a couple things one how smart Phil Knight was the create a subsequent parallel company with Michael Jordan and it also tells you. Exactly how good a salesman at name value and person Michael Jordan is because I'm sure that the royalties and the ownership of that company fifty percent owners is what enabled. Michael. Divi the Charlotte Hornets today in the NBA but I'm not close to a Michael situation financially or business in more. So I'm I'm I'm speculating. SF fx were at the time they seem to be buying a whole load of different agencies that in fact David Folk did he not run at the end? Yeah. What he was in charge us effect I'm sorry who is that? I? Didn't hear it was David Folk in involve fx. No not really an later. What happened we sold the company brochure. an ESA VEX. Really, wanted to get into sports and they had a sports division, but they weren't doing that much but they were very very involved in music. And they had the largest shareholder. I'm trying to think of Bob's last name I think the minute. That the largest shareholder decided he really wanted to get into sports. So when they bought US that got him into sports pro sir. And after about three years with us. He decided he saw. Obviously all my assets and all my documents in pro serve. And he saw that in my continuing relationship I was involved with Michael Jordan financially long-term. And he called me one day and said On their free. Always happened on a Saturday Communist. Saturday and said. On Monday I'm. GonNa. Buy. Part of David Fox all of David Cau- Fox Company. because he has Michael Jordan a you had you had a piece of Michael Jordan and your asset, but he has the rest of them. I WanNa buy I think he bought him primarily for Michael Jordan. No question about that. My mind any I discovered that after he acquired protester. And certain confidentiality and things I can't get into but that's out of all of need saw that Michael. was part of my assets in pro serve when he bought us in a minority way and he wanted to buy majority in control and so two three years later and Michael Dominating phenomenally and in sports. And he what they fox company called a fame I, think what happens to an agency when it gets bought when private equity or or venture capital comes in and buys sports agencies, there is something that happens that the autism, the culture of the place. Do you think that's true? Do you think in because there sometimes that peculiar businesses in some ways on the player aged unique personal services of the leaders of the companies are very much of the culture. Now I think it's a it's a very good question because That's exactly what happens when when I sold S Fx. They, put me on the on the board to have you know have me involved the founder generally, you know the the the buyer wants first of all the buyer wants control. And he believes he can probably do it better than the founder in many cases. So he's buying the asset, but he wants you know at the level of numbers and so forth, he wants to run it or control it or what whatever you WANNA call it. And I know. That about a month or two after I had sold pro serve is on the board. Of the company that acquired it and and I, they wanted to get into sports and do some things I went to the first board me and I came back and told my wife will I finally realized that? I had three or four ideas, but they couldn't care less. They're really controlling interest and when when Teddy Forstmann bought I. Am Gene Market died obviously or he wouldn't have sold the company I don't think. But the culture does change because if you if you went and talked to different George, is a good one to start with. But if you talked to these various people Peter, Johnson Bob, Kane Andy Pearce, they are all people with IMG when they were sold to. Teddy, Forstmann. All of them would tell you if they're speaking bluntly that the culture change very quickly. And it, and it was much more business quarterly numbers you know and it was run like a private equity firm. And that change for a lot of these guys who have been there long time. Created? The certainly pro serve or the sport of. Managing athletes is based on relationships. Personal relationships not it's not based on contracts. It's not based on private equity is not based on quarterly numbers. It's based on a personal relationships, for example, mark McCormack had a tent. At why at Wimbledon for thirty years while he was still managed a lot of Wimbledon activities particularly in television. But people went there every year to Wimbledon they go out and have lunch his tent and he built enormous relationships particularly in in Europe. Not In America so much he had outlets as I did in the US Open and they were American, oriented but he was really strong in Europe and largely because of his ability to socialize and greet people. An an started with with Wimbledon, the US. Open, and that's how he built his business that all changes when a new guy comes in. And in his case, sadly he died so you wouldn't even asked to stay on most times they asked the chairman or the founder to stay on. For a limited period of time because they really want to run it themselves the other side of the business overseas with the clients and I'm always intrigued when I talked to sometimes interview gophers of a certain age who mon on about their agents. EMESA. They didn't make enough money for them. There's this sort of inevitable tussle about whether or not. They should have been. You Know I. could have been richer than I. Am I remember talking to Tony Jacklin. He was monia about McCormack's treatment of. Then if they're very successful, they go off and try and leave. The sort of mother agency is because Nicholas left McCormack on of Jordan went somewhere else where. So. It's quite difficult management process. I guess if you are in charge of all of that, when here's the here's the real problem with that for first of all. Tennis Golf. Are Two things they're global and their and their individual. That's totally different than representing a football player in the NFL or a basketball player. In the NBA or soccer world class player in the Premier League is totally different because those teams and and the negotiations are much different than they are in sports in golf and tennis because individual and so Thinking back to how this all on. Replays I mean you really have to understand the mentality of your client. And I, and I think it's gotten worse both golfing tennis today. From talent viewpoint They're really very spoiled by wonderful tremendous amounts of prize money in both sports now. And the top players that say I'm much closer in tennis but the top ten players top fifteen players. Are Making a fortune in tennis where the lesser players down the line are not making quite as much but the top players dominating and they're dominating with television with sponsorship. So they feel entitled Goff's the same way even more I mean look at Tiger Woods. He dominated the sport, and then he was out of it for five years. Now, he's back in it and he's still an enormous name I. Mean You'd love to have tiger woods as a client because you can sell them. Very Ver-, the name value is is tremendous in individual sports that where you know in the NFL today, there's a couple you know. Tom Brady is a great name and for the new, England patriots now moved to Tampa Bay but you've got five or ten or fifteen. Great names in the NFL but in in tennis and Golf, you've probably got. Ten to fifteen in each sport, you got thirty or forty names, and then you bring the women into a Serena. Williams's a fabulous name value the cell. So it's a different kind of thing you really have to understand. And and the problem is that. When you're let's say you have an individual agency you're I am your pro serve and you guys been working with you for seven years. I'm just making this up. For seven years, he's got all the contracts and all the contacts and your. Rolodex is all those things are available. He's working with you together and you've been in it twenty years. He's been in seven years, and then he comes to you and says. Gee Now you know I really WanNa go out on my own start, my own company and a really appreciate all you've done for me. You done a great job for me and I've learned so much I now want to do it on my own. And you say, well. You try to keep him discuss it with them and argue with him whatever that he decides to leave, and then you find out two weeks later, he wants to take four or five or your best clients. Nobody goes out starts their own business agent without wanting to steal your clients and that's exactly what it is. So it's very tough business. And certainly, you know I'll never forget mark. McCormack. Calling me one day and said, this is the happiest a moment in my career. Wise at Jack. Nicklaus is just decided to come back. We're only be limited stuff for him, but it's great to have him back. And I'm sure he felt that way. I would have felt the same way with Michael if he'd come back you know but I didn't I didn't recruit him there after a different a different era different sport different money but it's just you really have to understand the personal involvement that you get with golfers and tennis players because one on one individual sports is much more personal than. Who? If I was to guess which client gave you the most trouble would it be? Jimmy Connors. O'Connor's was was kind of like an outlier one off is is Jimmy Connors actually? was never a member of the ATP and I was one of the founders. Sued Me Jack Kramer and Arthur Ashe in nineteen seventy five we're in a lawsuit from Connors and of course, he played Arthur in the finals at. Wimbledon. In one and Arthur one when he was sixteen to one down the bookies anyone the match for sets so I was stunned surprise when a couple of years later the congress bone NSAID said, would you like to represent Jimmy Connors, my son. And to be honest I before I accept that I called Arthur and stand. And because they had strong feelings and I said, how do you all feel about me representing Jimmy Connors? And I remember Arthur Said sort of careful careless care all of free country and you need you wanted to get us a great client. You WanNa. Do it that's fine. Stan was not so easy. He said, no I. I never respected Connors that much and I. You know I'd like to forget about a little bit more and so we talk some more. So I if they both said, no, no, no, I probably wouldn't have that. Jimmy. But. They never end the MRS conners Never Niche Mrs Connors was the boss. Jimmy was a great great talent. He used to call Gloria is mom I would say once or twice or three times a week. So she was the boss and in pro serve. We had the head of my tennis division was very good smart lawyer named Ivan Bloomberg. And he became Jimmy Connors Day to day manager and Gloria Connors was my client and I worked. Out and Carlo because she was the boss believe me. And GIMMIE. Jimmy's turn false I. mean he was with me for nine years a one, the US Open again Easily this is what people forget. He was the best ticket seller in men's tennis for ten years in America. Was this question about when people love to see Jimmy Connors for all his rape play for all of his antics Attitude that the problem. That I used to try to overcome was his mother taught him sort of coming up that the world was against him that he had to beat everybody somehow motivated him. And so I inherited that when when I started representing him and so. I could never quite convinced him. Jimmy Connors today are very good friends he called I called him. He called me to represent him in a in a Casey's got right now as an expert witness I've never done that for anybody any case I've accepted him because I. I really liked Jimmy and took me nine years to get close to him. As a as. A one off he's not lie. He feels you know that he was on his own and he was independent. He didn't want to be in the players union he didn't. So that's just always the way he's been but I mean, for example, I called him I don't know six months months ago right as Pandit pandemic was heating up back in March and I asked him, would he mind sending an email to a fella who was professional of pro on the tour trying to make the Jewish black he was in the hospital. And very sick, and and he his hero was Jimmy Connors because somebody had called me and told me that it was one of the family members of the boy was sick. And I said Jimmy would you mind shoot him an email pepin him up and he said, no, no call him. Give me his number. Call them in the hospital. Three. Months four months ago. A called him and he really pepped him up this. Jimmy Connors was hero. He never dreamed. He'd be speak into it and it really helped him a you know in his in his in his medical situation because it lifted his spirits and. Did that off Jimi was great with sponsors. Jimmy could turn it on turn it off he he was. But. It was really I think a great competitor and in one of his you know in some ways, one of his faults if any was that I don't think sometimes. He saw the big picture. In Tennessee politics but so what he cared about one thing winning. And that's what he did. Best. Remember he won the soap and four or five times. Wimbledon the only tournament he never won was the French Open. and. The year he had the best chance where he won the three other slams. he couldn't play at Wimbledon. Excuse me. Didn't. He couldn't play at the French Open because he hadn't joined the ATP and that led to a lawsuit sleep shot trade. The president of French was extremely close to Jack Kramer the founder of ATP and they were inseparable good friends both the same age both knew each other extremely well. And Connors ad I think signed up with world. Team. Tennis something is ancient history now but fleet just didn't accept his entry and connor sued the ATP because he felt Jack was behind it because connors wouldn't joined the ATP that led a lawsuit and seventy five and the finals of Wimbledon Arthur is the president of ATP play, Jimmy Connors, which you well know. We'll see we'll questions for you for you go. One is is Is there one that got away from me one, the talent or a player and athlete you really really coveted as A. As a client and you just couldn't get over the ninety wouldn't. Is Not hard to figure the answer that the name is Michael. Jordan. He got away with an industry. I had eight or ten people working on Michael. Jordan. Stop anywhere. Richard. It was. It was an easy one. I should've I should've preempted that. It was a and finally is there anything you know for certain? What's what's the? There's lots of IFS and buts and Lockin. But is there anything you've learned over the years? Fifty years since pro serve? Launched is there anything you know for certain? Well I think a couple things I think. Like Arthur Ashe's think there's much more good in people in bed. I, I do believe today and talking about. the racial issue in America. That today's trend is far far deeper and greater than many people realize certainly anybody outside of America would realize it when you have the New, York Yankees wearing all black when they walk out on the first game this year and when you have all the NBA players aggressively speaking out about racism black and white players it started with Cabernet but I really do believe if he had lived longer. Arthur would have been very strong leader in races and then fighting racism because that's what he believed in. That's what he did. He just did it earlier I wish I thought this is just my bias that Arthur was the forerunner. To President. Obama. President Obama was very much like Arthur. Eat tremendous reader be rear. He was he was the editor of the Harvard Law Review that it never happened to. African American before and I think Arthur and. President Obama would have been good friends. Arthur always wonder run in New York Not Virginia for politics and he just died too young but if there's I'm not really answering your question if there's one thing I have learned is These athletes while spoiled. The great ones are really good people. I used to introduce Arthur in Stan wherever they win. The. Following these are. Great people who are very good players. And that's what I really believe. As. A lovely place to end Donald. Thanks very this is our one hundred podcasts and. I couldn't think of a better guess to come on and celebrate that. So thanks very much for your time. We really appreciate it. As you can tell, it certainly enjoyed talking with you and I hope to see next we're Wimbledon we'll have a drink. Let's let's. Let's do that. Okay.