Headline Sports Business

Is Creative Artists Agency Unstoppable?

Creative Artists Agency logoAfter reading the article I wrote yesterday on CAA’s acquisition of CSMG’s President, Henry Thomas, and all of his clients, I realized that I did not spend enough time talking about the implications of this move on the sports agent industry as a whole.  CSMG wis probably gone for good, but what exactly does it mean for CAA?

Let’s look at CAA’s basketball division, first.  Before hiring Henry Thomas, CAA already boasted three strong basketball agents: Leon Rose, Andre Buck, and Steven Heumann.  Heumann mostly deals with the high profile overseas players and those born outside of the U.S. who now play in the NBA (think Omri Casspi).  Andre Buck is up-and-coming, and serves as the primary agent for guys like Jason Thompson, Aaron Brooks, and Renaldo Balkman.  Then there is Leon Rose, who has LeBron James, O.J. Mayo, Jonny Flynn, Allen Iverson, Richard Hamilton…the list goes on.  The key thing that I notice with Henry Thomas’s arrival is that LBJ and D-Wade are now under the same roof.  The two most marketable basketball players (you can throw Dwight Howard in at #3 in my book) are at CAA.  Interestingly, though, LBJ has his own marketing company, so CAA, the sports marketing juggernaut, does not reap rewards from that account.  D-Wade will bring in some nice profits, though.  He recently switched from repping Converse to the Jordan Brand (both owned by Nike).

In yesterday’s post, I alluded to Jason Belzer’s Sports Agency Power Rankings.  The list was created a year ago, and I think that he would agree with me that the pecking order should be changed.  I believe that the top 4 are now CAA, WMG, Octagon, and BEST.  WMG, Octagon, and BEST are not all that far from one another, but all 3 are a giant step below CAA, in my opinion.

A key question is: How does one compete?  One thing is sure, you are not going to beat CAA by playing its game.  The company does not have unlimited resources, but something close to it.  They have more connections to producers, directors, potential sponsors, etc, so you can’t out-promise Creative Artists Agency on providing more avenues outside of the field/court.  What you can beat CAA at (possibly) is personal care.  CAA is the largest sports agency in terms of quality of clients and track-record of agents, but they are not interested in players who are going to be taken Day 2 of the NFL Draft, beyond the 10th round of the MLB Rule 4 Draft, or un-drafted basketball players (for the most part).  In fact, even if you are a 2nd round NFL draft pick, do you want to be splitting time with Matt Stafford?  If you are a 4th round pick, will you get the same attention as Derek Jeter?  LeBron Jame and Dwayne Wade might get a few more phone calls then a 2nd round NBA draft pick.

A lot of athletes crave attention.  They also want someone that they can relate to.  Personal relationships mean a lot in this business.  Just because CAA is growing by the day and seems like it is a company that is beyond competition, does not mean that it is immune to losing some big potential clients to a boutique firm that knows what it is doing and can connect with the athletes.  Don’t fight CAA at its strengths, find out what your own strengths are and use those to impress future clients.

All of that being said, CAA sure got a lot stronger with its latest acquisition.

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.

3 replies on “Is Creative Artists Agency Unstoppable?”

It's Catch 22. In order to beat them, you need personal care, more one on one. Yet at the same time you need a large, talented roster which resembles theirs. Reputation is key.

Yeah dont forget Maximum Sports Management…They should be in the top 3!! Best of the Best!!

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