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Book Review: Never Make the First Offer

A fairly common question that I receive from people interested in learning more about the sports agent business, is who are some of the people I look up to as mentors in the profession.  One name that I cannot leave off that list is Donald Dell.  I had the honor of initially meeting Dell as a first year law student, when he came to visit the University of Florida.  He was undoubtedly there to meet with Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer, who are now clients of Dell at Blue Equity Sports Entertainment  (BEST), but was gracious enough to stop by the law school to give a speech to the student body.  Last year, I once again had the opportunity to chat with Dell at the 2008 Princeton Sports Symposium.  My best discussion with him to date, may actually have been a one-way communication, and he did not even know he was speaking to me.  I just finished reading an advance copy of his book that is scheduled to come out September 1, Never Make the First Offer, and will probably take it with me on every future business trip.

I am going into my 3rd and final year of law school, and will finally be able to take classes that I am extremely interested in.  One of the classes that I will be taking this fall, is Negotiation & Mediation.  I think I will have a leg up on my classmates after reading Never Make the First Offer, but then again, there are no winners or losers in a negotiation.  I learned a lot from reading Winning With Integrity by Leigh Steinberg, but cannot say that it has affected my thought on negotiation in the same fashion as Dell’s new book.  Dell gets into fine detail about many of his former negotiations involving big names like Michael Jordan, Andy Roddick, Jimmy Connors, and even FedEx, and shares his advice on how to effectively navigate the process to ensure short and long term success for all parties involved.

The advance copy that I read is less than 200 pages, extremely easy to read, and is great pool deck material.  That said, it is something you don’t want to get wet, because it should sit perfectly on your business desk.  My one beef with Never Make the First Offer, is that for all the talk of Michael Jordan, Dell never gets into the story behind the mess between Jordan, Dell, and one-time Dell employee, David Falk.  I figured at least something would be said after Falk downed Dell, but then again, Dell’s best strategy may be to ignore it and move on.

This past weekend, Donald Dell was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.  I’d like to congratulate him on this amazing honor and wish him well as he continues to develop a powerhouse at BEST.  I am positive that we will meet again soon, and cannot wait for the opportunity.  At least his book will always be by my side.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

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