Early on April 5, it was reported that Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball and his player agent Harrison Gaines ended their contractual relationship. Ball provided a statement that Gaines served as a trusted advisor and close friend, while Gaines thanked Ball for the opportunity of working with him.
Harrison Gaines was willing to answer some follow-up questions that I had for him in the wake of the reporting. The following is the back-and-forth from that conversation.
Darren Heitner: Why did you and Lonzo Ball agree to part ways now? Does it have anything to do with the issues the family has with Alan Foster?
Harrison Gaines: No, it does not. As I said in my statement two weeks ago, my interaction with Alan Foster was limited. Anybody around the situation knows I was completely distant from anything Big Baller Brand related. I love Lonzo like a brother; our decision to part ways had nothing to do with our relationship. It was solely based on his family’s new direction/expectations and my own personal growth moving forward.
Heitner: What were some of the important lessons you learned as part of your experience in working with the family?
Gaines: The main lesson I learned, confirmed everything I knew before: keeping the focus on basketball, perfecting your craft, and having great character will give you longevity in the NBA. If a player handles those three things, it will set up the big contracts, endorsements, and off the court success. The challenge of an agent is managing that daily grind. You can’t put the cart before the horse.
Heitner: Were you actually ever part of a Ball Sports Group agency or did you independently run your own agency? People have been asking whether Lonzo had any equity in your agency or whether he received a piece of your commissions. Can you clear the air on that?
Gaines: No, the Ball Sports Group was an agency in theory. Lavar and Alan Foster did not want the public to think the brothers were represented by an outside entity. Therefore, I agreed to hold Ball Sports Group out in reference to the brothers. SLASH Sports is my own firm ran with my brother/CMO Silas Gaines (who’s completing his MBA at NYU) and good friend Charles Misuraca, Esq., who is Director of the International Division. No player has stake in SLASH or receives a piece of commissions.
Heitner: How will the breakup effect your recruiting of players and what should we all be watching concerning you and your expected future growth in the world of representation?
Gaines: Being able to represent the #2 pick as my first client thrust my name into the public, but as with anything in life, it came with trade offs. In recruiting, the question of whether Lavar Ball ran my company loomed over me, and this separation should clear that up.
Two years ago at twenty-seven years old, I was fresh out of law school with a vision. Now at twenty-nine, I have high level players like Jamaal Franklin, Isaiah Austin, Miye Oni, Xavier Thames, Jabari Brown, Odyssey Sims, among many others who trust SLASH with their careers. I’m living out my dream, making a great living, and doing it my way.
I got into this business because I absolutely love the game of basketball. I’m using the sport as a vehicle to help grow young men on and off the court by providing mentorship, great representation, and guidance in any endeavor they shall choose. I will continue to do that.