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A $1,118,060 Mistake

Darrell ArthurWhile watching the 2008 NBA Draft last week, I could not help myself from drawing a connection between Brady Quinn and Darrell Arthur.  Sure, they are not the same color and do not even play the same sport, but both had to go through the agonizing experience of having ESPN cameras flash their lights on the one-time college stand outs who were being passed up for what scouts had called inferior players preceding the draft.  In the aftermath of Brady Quinn’s fall from being one of the first people chosen in the draft, very few attacked Condon for his performance in the episode.  In fact, many were not surprised; Brady Quinn was not a lock to be selected in the top of the first round, and scenarios that included him being selected later than Brady would have liked had been suggested.  Quinn suffering had a lot to do with poor planning by those who selected the players chosen to sit in the green room.  Can the same be said in the Darrell Arthur ordeal?

Prior to last Thursday, and even on draft day, there was little spoken of a potential slip in Arthur’s draft stock.  In fact, very few people would have ever believed that Arthur would not be the first Jayhawk selected.  Brandon Rush is a stud, but there was no way that his name would be read before Arthur’s, right?  Wrong.  Brandon Rush was picked earlier than many analysts had predicted (at #13 overall), and Darrell Arthur slipped…very…far.

Kansas Men’s Basketball Coach, Bill Self, believed that Arthur had a chance of being picked right around #15 overall.  He was more than a little displeased when his former forward was selected at #27.  The difference between the slotted value of a #15 pick and #27 pick over the first two years of the contract is $1,118,060 (hence the title of this article), but that disparity grows even larger if a third and fourth year option is accepted by Arthur’s team.

Let the finger pointing begin!  Bill Self did everything that he could for his former student-athlete when he noticed that Darrell Arthur was getting passed over for what he felt was absolutely no reason.  He made calls to NBA team management and knew immediately that somebody dropped the ball.  When Self found out that teams were ignoring Arthur’s name because “doctors wouldn’t let them take him” over a mysterious “kidney problem”, frustration and disappointment set in.

So, the question remains, who is to blame?  Who dropped the ball?  My first inclination was to point my finger at Darrell Arthur’s agent, Jerry Hicks.  Darrell was recently tested by the Wizards, when nothing was found to be wrong with his kidney.  The first thing that his agent should have done is make sure that every single NBA GM, President, scout, coach, and floor sweeper knew that Darrell was healthy and ready to wreck havoc in the paint.  Here is Hicks’s story:

“We did the bloodwork on the morning of the 25th, and by noon, [Arthur’s kidneys] were determined to be completely normal. I received a message from Washington — which is still saved in my voice mail in my office — that everything was normal. Philadelphia received word that things were normal. How this became an issue around the league is puzzling, to say the least.”

Why is it so puzzling?  Rumor had spread that your client had potential issues with his kidneys, which was later dispelled for two out of thirty teams.  What made you think that the other twenty-eight got the same information?  I give permission to Arthur to believe that the other twenty-eight teams would get the word.  He does not know enough about the basketball industry and hired an agent to cross every t and dot every i.  There is absolutely no excuse that Arthur’s information was not disseminated to every club, just in case.

Jason Whitlock got it wrong.  This is not about a young player making the mistake of leaving early for the draft.  Darrell Arthur was projected as a late lottery pick and probably would have been had teams been properly informed that his “kidney problems” were unfounded rumors.  Instead, the lesson that should be learned is that players and their advisors should take ultimate care in handling all situations and events leading up to the draft.  If there is even an inkling that a rumor might be seen as true by only a single team, everything must be done to erase such ideas from others minds.  When you are a potential lottery pick, in most cases you should not go back to school for another year.  There is no insurance policy that will reward you enough money for a career-ending injury.  I think that we are making a mistake by blaming Darrell’s fall on his early entry into the draft.

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.

14 replies on “A $1,118,060 Mistake”

Huge mistake by the agent. This problem comes off as common sense to me or “Agent 101”.. I feel sorry for Darrell Arthur

I had the same thing happen to me in the 2006 draft with one of my clients. the NBA medical system of inspection is very flawed. What they thought would be “helpful” in doing the physicals in Orlando has cause a number of kids to be passed over because some team doctor “saw” something and never raised a flag until all the teams had the information.

You should see it. It looks like boot camp. The kids stand in these lines waiting for their name to be called and all the information is shared umong the teams.

Yes, his agent dropped the ball…

The problem is that when there is flag, the agent is not informed until after the information is recorded. These are not outside doctors. They are team doctors. The NBA teams are NOT required to inform the agent if there is a flag and since the draft camp is off limits to agents we dont hear about it until a day later when a team cancels your clients workout. Once there is a flag these teams move on to their next choice.

I am sure the team that drafted him will take plenty of test before they sign him. They will hold the contract over his head as a means to get him to take more test.

They own his rights so if he ever wants to play in the NBA which I am sure he wants to he will give up more fluids and they will look for more…. and more….

Most of these flags could get a second look from a doctor in the area the same day before the story speads and hurts the kid.

I tell all my clients that “all you have is your health”. If you let them draw blood you cant take back whatever they find.

If you decline the physical then they think you are hiding something…

Union, labor laws…something has to give…

I live in Memphis and wrote a piece about this. I made note of the medical issues you pointed out, but wasn’t aware the results of the blood work done for the Wizards could have been made public.

I don’t question Arthur’s talent, I just don’t believe the Grizzlies needed him. They needed Love but foolishly traded him for Mayo. We “only” have four guards now.

The Grizzlies haven’t been the same since Jerry West left.

Nice reporting on Arthur. I’ll post a little blurb on my site linking to this.

@small time agent I’m just curious since you are (or at least claim) to be an agent that has dealt with this type of issue before…

Is it possible that some team doctor could “see” something in order to have a player drop in the draft and possibly have the team that doctor is working for have a better chance to select the particular player?

Seems like a dirty move to me, but in the era of performance enhancing drugs, Spygate, Tim Donaghy, etc. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised.

No Blue…

I would NOT call the ethics of these inspections into question, its the release of the medical information that should be managed in a better manner.

Since it is a medical situation, HIPPA laws do apply and I am sure that is the main reason why us agents are not in the loop on the outcomes of these physicals.

Its not a question of pass or fail, its a matter of inspection to identify any health issues.

It’s all about the insurance policy… don’t be fooled…

A doctor will run an echo and stress test and if he sees something he will note it in the records and move on to the next player. Its not his call to say the kid has health problems but once he is asked his about risk factors he has to disclose anything that could be an issue with insuring the player.

Thats when team loyality comes in….

No doctor wants to end a players career before it even starts. But understand their job, they hold a seat at the GM table so at some point they have input from a business standpoint.

There should be some type of notification to the player and his agent before it hits the rumor mill.

When a doctors notes a players medical records that he failed a exam, that information will reach the teams before the agent because the teams can request this information as soon as the ink is dry.

When you have 30 team staying in the same hotel, it doesnt take long for things to spead…

This information is off limits to agents and famlies. The player can request a copy in a formal letter but we are talking about days before a draft (See Aurthur) so by the time the agent and player are trying get a second look you are now days from the draft and have lost workout days because no team will see you.

No CERTIFIED agent in any sport would let their client’s future hang knowing there is always a second doctor to see…

To your post, many good points.

I would add the following:

1. The agent and the player need to get ahead of any potential story. Like an attorney who doesn’t ask a question he doesn’t know the answer to, the agent should have required his client to (1) take a comprehensive physical in order for all to know the facts; (2) IF issues are flagged, a second opinion and/or a specialist could be consulted; (3) under HIPAA, the information is privileged and the client can waive in favor of who he decides.

2. The player can have medical records that he discloses to prospective clubs and can have the option of taking/refusing to take a physical, or to have his medical experts speak directly with the team physician.

The agent’s duty is to the player. This was a million dollar mistake, but not the first like this by an agent. Faulty exams, faulty comments by non-specialist doctors, does not inure to the benefit of the player.

It is worth the dollars investment to get your own doctors on the record first.

Great post! I think that this logic cold also be applied to many other players who listened to their agents without thinnking of the consequences….Chris douglas-Roberts. He refused to work out for the Pistons request not once, but twice. While many believed he would be drafted higher, his agent should have known and made it clear that drafts don’t always go the way you think. Teams often say one thing and then do another. He could have easily been drafted by the Pistons at #29 and gotten a guaranteed contract worth millions…not to mention be on a team that allows him to grow while also now committing to playing younger players. His refusal could come back to haunt him if injury occurs or he just does not pan out. His agent should be held accountable and hopefully a lesson was learned by CDR.

I’m no agent but I think it’s pretty obvious that Arthur should be furious with his agent. Why would a team that knows that he’s ok when others think he’s not let the other teams know. Can’t blame the wizards for not passing on the information, the wouldy of been hoping that he’d slip and they could pick him up for a steal later in the draft. A complete no-brainer, probably the most incompetent piece of player management i’ve ever heard of. I feel sorry for Arthur. Hopefully he’ll gain some extra motivation from this and we”ll be talking about him as the steal of the draft. If only he’d slipped a couple more places to my beloved Celtics…..

Great post. I couldn’t agree more that Jason Whitlock got it wrong. Arthur was one of the most consistent players the entire year for the Jayhawks, and would not have been able to do much the following year to improve his draft stock with the way Self likes to rotate big men in and out. Whitlock primarily writes to create controversy, not to report the truth. That is why I do not read his articles in any publication anymore, because the majority of the time it is BS that he does not even believe in.

good story, Darrell was on the radio the other day in memphis talking about this. while i do feel sorry for him, im also happy that the grizzlies got a chance to get him late in the 1st round. I saw him explode against my tigers in the finals, and now hopefully he can bring the thunder for the Griz, lord knows we need it. there was also a story about him in the memphis paper about how he’s pissed off and gonna play with a chip on his shoulder, so look out.

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