Headline NBA Players Sports Law

Michael Beasley v. Joel Bell, Inc. Exposes Dark Side Of Youth Basketball Recruiting

Michael Beasley of the Minnesota Timberwolves is currently a client of Jeff Schwartz at Excel Sports Management, but that was not always the case.  Prior to hiring Schwartz, Beasley had been represented for team contract negotiations and off-court marketing deals by Joel Bell of Bell Sports, Inc.

When Beasley left Bell Sports, Inc., the company filed a lawsuit against the NBA player based on his non-payment of commissions stemming from a marketing deal with Adidas that Bell Sports believed it was owed.  Bell Sports claimed that it was owed its 20% commission, because the company supposedly negotiated most of the deal with Adidas prior to Beasley’s split.  A marketing agreement dated March 26, 2008 between Bell Sports and Beasley stipulates that Beasley agrees to pay Bell Sports 20% “pursuant to any agreement, arrangement, or association…on which negotiations substantially commenced during the term of this Agreement…”  However, the marketing agreement attached to Bell Sports’ Complaint is not signed or dated by Beasley.  Further, it is poorly drafted in general (Bell Sports could certainly use my services to draft a better marketing agreement for future use…but I digress).

Beasley lawyered up and responded to Bell Sports’ Complaint with his own Counterclaim.  In Paragraph 24 of his Counterclaim, Beasley states, “On information and belief, in addition to funneling money to Beasley’s mother, [Bell Sports, Inc.] paid money to Malone “on the side” or “under the table,” in exchange for Malone, at least attempting to manipulate, NBA prospects like Beasley, but typically far less-talented than Beasley, into signing an agency agreement with [Bell Sports, Inc.].”  Malone is Herman C. Malone a/k/a Curtis Malone, co-founder and operator of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) DC Assault.  The team is based in the Washington D.C. area.

Count Five (of Eight) of Beasley’s Counterclaim is for Civil Conspiracy.  Beasley claims that Bell Sports violated NCAA rules, the Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA), and the Sports Agent Responsibility and Trust Act of 2004 (SPARTA) based on the financial benefits it provided to Beasley while he retained student-athlete eligibility.  Beasley also named Malone as a third-party Defendant, and filed a separate Six Count Complaint against the co-founder of the AAU team.  Claims include that Malone funneled money to Beasley’s mother from Bell Sports and also violated NCAA, NBPA, UAAA, and SPARTA rules.  Paragraph 51 of the Complaint against Malone reads, “In summary, Third-Party Defendant, in concert with [Bell Sports, Inc.] corrupted every mechanism of honest guidance Beasley had in his life to assist him to pursue the best NBA agent available, which seriously deprived Beasley, both economically and otherwise.”

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.