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Family Acting as Agents: It’s just not right!

Watching the NBA draft Thursday made me think of this topic and how wrong it is. An ESPN reporter asked Mike Conley Sr., the agent of Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr, why he is the best choice to be representing both of these future NBA superstars. His answer: “This business is about trust and both of them know they can trust me.” That answer right there is nothing more than a cop out.

Is he trying to say that Greg and Mike Jr. cannot trust anyone else? Absolutely not. What he is really trying to say is that he wants to represent them himself for personal benefit; that’s it. He is one of those parents that cannot take a backseat to his child’s success and constantly has to be hands on. He is an agent with BDA, the most successful athlete representation firm in the NBA (Editors Note: Is BDA the most successful firm in the NBA? Leave your feelings in the comments section.), and he has no experience representing NBA players. There is no way he should start his career as the agent for the number 1 pick Greg Oden, who is a close family friend and the number 4 pick Mike Conley Jr. (his son). The smartest thing for both Mike Jr. and Greg to do would have been to sign with Bill Duffy himself.

Even Mike Conley Jr. mentioned in an ESPN interview that it is kind of weird to have his father as his agent. Well that should say it all, a client/agent relationship should never be awkward. Who in their right mind would choose an agent with whom he has an awkward relationship? It’s absurd. You know the saying never go into business with family? A situation like this makes the saying ring true. Mike Jr. went on to say that it is weird to talk to Mike Conley Sr. the dad one minute and the agent the next minute. For Mike Conley Sr. to think that he is the best agent for Greg Oden and his son is a joke. Enough about Mike Sr, I’m tired of this guy.

A perfect example of how the agent business can put a strain on a family is the example of Drew Brees and his mother [Drew Brees Tells His Mom to Take a Timeout from TV Ad]. Back in 2001, Drew Brees finished up a phenomenal college career and was getting ready for the NFL draft. It was during this time that Drew’s relationship with his mother took a turn for the worse. Drew’s mother wanted to represent him as an agent and Drew was having no part of it. Since then, their relationship has been sour to say the least. It takes some kind of person to back her child into a corner and insist that he chooses her as his agent. Can you imagine ruining a family because your son decided to choose an experienced certified NFL agent? It’s sad that this is even a topic of discussion, but sometimes people will do whatever is necessary to better themselves, even at the cost of their friends or family.

-Paul Schackman

13 replies on “Family Acting as Agents: It’s just not right!”

Mike, Sr isn’t an idiot, he’s going to build himself an agent business on the back of his son and his son’s friend, along with a very good agent in Bill Duffy.

Mike, Sr can learn the business from Duffy, Calvin Andrews, Bill Sanders, etc at BDA and in a year or two bolt and return to his own firm, all by himself.

Paul I disagree. I do not think that Mike Conley Sr. is riding the coattails of his son and Greg Oden at all. Being the father, his son would mose likely take care of him financially for the rest of his life. He does not need to be his agent to be taken care of financially. And being that Mike Jr. is such a great athlete and came out after his freshman year, I think its safe to say that Mike Jr will be playing in the League for many years to come. He will most likely get another extension after his rookie deal. He became the baller he is because of his father. And all of the years of taking him to practice and helping him get better is now big part of his life. He wants to make sure Mike, and his good friend Greg succeed on and off the court. There have been many instances where agents have conned players into bad investments and other schemes that have cost players millions. I agree that the relationship between Mike Jr and his dad will now be somewhat uncomfortable because a dad always looks at his son as a little boy and not as the man that he is. It will probably happen to Mike Jr. but atleast he has other friends like Greg and Daquan Cook to relate to. they are all going through this experience together. Being invovled with Bill Duffy gives them credibility in future negotiations and opportunities, but having your dad looking out for your best interests is much better than having only an agent who has dozens of clients. To Duffy alone, Mike is just another client on an impressive list of players. With his pops looking out, every chance dad gets he will make sure Mike Jr. succeeds on and off the court. Your argument about Drew Brees and his mother is significant. I feel sorry for Drew, but every man makes his own decisions, and he has to live with the one he made to let his mother represent him.

I also happen to feel that Conley Jr. will succeed under his father’s representation. If you have a parent like Drew Brees’ mother, you need to steer clear from making such a decision, but in the case of the Conley family, I think it will work out for the best.

One of the primary reasons I think Conley Sr. will be a good choice for represenation for his son (and Oden) is because of his prior experience. Conley Sr. isn’t just some ordinary joe who is trying to cash in on his son’s professional career. Though he doesn’t have any experience working directly as a player-representative, his resume is outstanding and will serve as a strong foundation as he begins his work as a sports agent:

From “Sports Law Blog” (

* He is a three-time Olympian and former Olympic gold medalist in the triple jump.
* He has coached summer basketball teams to six AAU national titles.
* He is executive director of World Sport Chicago, a group aiming to land the 2016 Olympics for Chicago.
* He spent seven years as executive director of Elite Athlete Programs for USA Track & Field, where he oversaw the agent program and wrote the agent handbook.
* He established the Professional Athletics Association for track and field athletes.

Conley Sr. is also outsourcing all endorsement and financial planning services needed by his clients. In addition, he will be able to seek help from Duffy if needed.

Conley Sr. is a stark contrast to Mina Brees. Drew Brees’ mother had no prior experience in the sports world and had been practicing primarily civil and administrative law for her entire career.

Good stuff, Paul. Mixing family and business within the context of sports reminds me of Sean O’Hair (PGA pro) and his father, the latter of whom once forced Sean to sign a “contract” when Sean was 17 guaranteeing the old man 10% of any future earnings in consideration for his training and tutelage.

Needless to say the “contract” has since been torn up, and Sean rarely speaks to his Dad anymore.

I also think that Mike Conley is a lot different from the average joe….Very smart move by Conley. Conley Sr. is using his son as a networking tool, which I believe is okay. He obviously had some type of bond with Oden. I have a feeling that Conley Sr. can hang around OSU for a while and continue to grab top prospects. I see nothing wrong with keeping money in the family as long as that person is qualified. “It’s not always what you know, but who you know.” Nowadays, it doesn’t really matter what qualifications a person has. Lebron fired the Goodwins just to give his freind a job…..

p.s. I’m bias, but I think GSM is the best agency!!!!

You mean it’s the best agency right after Dynasty…

In all seriousness, though, without Conley Sr. in the mix over at BDA, he would have only been a part of representing Oden, Conley Jr., and Cook. While still impressive, being at BDA adds his name on 7 other players selected in the same draft. It builds his reputation just being a part of BDA. GSM, as a company, may have been more in the forefront of the media had Conley Sr. not joined forces with Duffy.

Either way, Goodwin seems to be doing just fine.

As we saw in the interview with David Price and constantly here from various interviews and articles players want an agent they can trust. In most cases it’s as simple as that they want someone who will tell them the truth and who will represent them with integrity. From my limited experience and conversations with agents doing things like negotiating contracts is not a tough thing to do. Especially in the case of a first and fourth pick overall in baseketball and so these guys were looking for someone they can trust and Conley Sr. is that guy. Conley Sr. obviously isn’t just some dad who has watched his son grow into a star and decided that he wanted to represent him in the NBA. The guy is a well respected former athlete.

I see this topic has alot of people disagreeing with me which is totally fine I rather people disagree than have no opinion at all.

I am not argueing whether or not Mike Sr. turns into a good agent or not, or if he is a good guy or not I believe in the future he will turn out to be a fine agent, as I person from what I have seen he seems like a good guy.

But in terms on Mike Conley Jr, and Greg Oden I just believe because of the nature of the business they should be represented by a neutral person with no ties to the family or friends.

It’s just my opinion but I appreciate the feedback

I think you’re spot on. How much experience he has is beside the point. The real question is, will he be held to a different (i.e., lower) standard by those clients of his with family or other ties (e.g., Oden, Conley, Jr.)?

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