Fresh off his fourth NBA title, LeBron James is more popular around the league and with fans, than ever. However, citing a story that appeared in The Athletic and several other sources, Fox Sports Radio host Ben Maller said Friday morning that James is using that popularity for illegal business activities. In fact, Maller entitled his podcast on the topic, “LeCriminal”.
“LeBron has been accused of illegal business activities that are hurting his fellow NBA players,” Maller said. “This is a pretty big accusation.”
According to The Athletic story, as reported by Heavy.com Sports, an anonymous agent says James is using his pull to influence players to sign with Klutch Sports, which is owned by James’ agent Rich Paul.
“The worst thing that LeBron is doing is forcing this power with Rich Paul and what that is, in terms of, he’s a player, but he has prowess in the media space,” the source said. “His company Spring Hill, that’s awesome. Doing the movies and all of the projects, that’s so commendable. I love that. But now that they’ve jumped into the agent game, which the reality is, it’s illegal for a player, particularly if you’re in the state of California, to be licensed to represent talent.”
“Do we believe this story?” Maller asks his audience. “I’m shaking my head, yes. LeBron is so omnipresent now he is working the system and no one is going to stop him. I see this as a union issue more than anything else. Nobody in the union has the machismo to stand up to LeBron and its hurting mid-level players.”
According to a 2017 article in Bleacher Report though, James was investigated by the NBA after similar accusations were made when he was a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He was later cleared of all wrongdoing.
That did not stop Maller from going after James, however.
“Some players are just collateral damage in the hustle,” Maller said. “Kentavious Caldwell Pope lost millions of dollars being a good little soldier for Klutch Sports by going to the Lakers instead of an 80 million dollar contract with the Pistons. With the Lakers, he earned about 37 million. That’s a lot of money KCP lost because of this. He and other players like him are getting a screw job but there is zero chance the NBA rolls LeBron back on this because he has absolute power. As the English nobleman (Lord Acton) said ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’.”
Ken Carman Explains Why He Won’t Mention Contract in Deshaun Watson Criticism
“If this contract and the salary is such a storyline, why can’t we know what the coaches make?”
Conversations about Deshaun Watson are very rarely just about the Browns’ quarterback’s performance. Last week, Mina Kimes said on Pablo Torre Finds Out that it would be hard to talk about him if he were playing better because of the sexual misconduct allegations against him. On 92.3 The Fan on Monday morning, Ken Carman added a subject that Watson makes it easier to avoid when he plays well.
“I don’t like saying $230 million quarterback and I’m doing my damndest not to,” the morning show host said.
The Cleveland Browns traded five draft picks to the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson, including three first-rounders. Then, the team signed its new quarterback to a fully-guaranteed contract worth over $230 million.
Carman says any coverage of Watson that mentions his contract tends to happen only when he and the team play poorly. It feels unfair, because the Browns’ problems are about more than just a quarterback.
“If this contract and the salary is such a storyline, why can’t we know what the coaches make?” he said. “Could you imagine the criticism of Kevin Stefanski last year if we knew he made X amount of millions of dollars? Like if we turn it on and they go, ‘Whoa! Kevin Stefanski is making $10 million a year. Wait a minute. You’re getting paid $10 million a year to go seven and ten? So you got paid $1,000,000 a loss?’ Like, that’s the type of thing that we would say.”
The hit that the Browns are taking to their salary cap is often cited as why Watson’s contract is worth scrutiny. Carman disagrees. Whether or not the contract limits the team’s ability to compete, it isn’t the biggest cost.
“You got the boots put to you anyway because you don’t have the draft picks,” he said. “It’s the three first-round picks that the investment is. That’s what’s real in my world. The money does not matter.”
Gregg Giannotti: Deion Sanders Always Takes Time for Questions from Media
“He’s promoting his brand, their brand and he’s doing it in the right way and doing it legally.”
The Colorado Buffaloes and head coach Deion Sanders saw their undefeated season come to a halt in a 42-6 blowout loss against the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, resulting in criticism and disparagement thrown in the direction of the team. The team was already dealing with an injury to star two-way player Travis Hunter, and Oregon entered the contest motivated to beat the story of the college football season, who head coach Dan Lanning claims are playing for clout and fame.
ESPN and FOX Sports have sent their signature sports programming to the university’s campus in Boulder, Colo. and split telecasts of the team’s first four matchups. In watching the team lose by a significant margin, fans took to social media to declare the end of the team’s storybook, phantasmagoric run. Sanders, however, still believes in his team and implored people to speak on the team now while they can.
“You better get me right now,” Sanders said during his postgame press conference. “This is the worst we’re going to be. You better get me right now.”
“Better get ‘me’ right now,” replied WFAN host Boomer Esiason on Monday morning. “It’s always about me, me, me, me, me.”
Esiason’s co-host Gregg Giannotti enjoyed the Colorado loss and believes that it will happen again in Week 5 against the USC Trojans. Additionally, he reminded the listeners that he had predicted the downfall of “Coach Prime” with the schedule facing the team. The next matchup has implications on the progress of the Colorado football program, along with the team’s hopes to qualify for a spot in the College Football Playoff (CFP). Twelve teams will qualify for the CFP when it expands next season, alleviating some pressure to finish with an undefeated record. Even though Giannotti was elated to see Colorado lose to Oregon in this manner, he did appreciate the way Sanders handled himself with the media.
“I’ll give him credit because the P.R. guy or the SID or [whomever] tried to end the press conference and he said, ‘No,'” Giannotti remarked.
“I watch these now every week,” replied WFAN anchor Jerry Recco. “He’ll say, ‘One more,’ and then before [Sanders] gets up, he’s like, ‘Anybody else need anything?,’ and then he’ll sit there for another five minutes.”
Esiason, being a former NFL quarterback, understands that Sanders is trying to elevate his own reputation and the University of Colorado Boulder itself. As a result, it is in his best interest to be accountable and accessible to media members looking for his perspectives or to interview him about the program. Sanders has already been on First Take and The Pat McAfee Show on ESPN, and has dominated discussion on studio programming across the sports media landscape.
“He’s promoting his brand, their brand and he’s doing it in the right way and doing it legally,” Esiason said. “In other words, if he were doing this five years ago, everybody would have a problem with it, but right now, it’s all legal to do it.”
The U.S. Supreme Court paved the way for college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness in a ruling on National Collegiate Athletic Association v. Alston (2021), claiming that limiting education-related benefits violates federal antitrust law. States then passed and/or amended individual laws regarding the practice as a reserved power, which could supersede rulings from the institutions themselves. Various college athletes have inked lucrative contracts with different types of brands to supplement their athletic prowess and position themselves for steady futures.
“If you are a kid sitting at home or let’s say you’re playing at Alabama right now; you’re playing at Georgia [or] you’re playing at Auburn, and Deion calls you up and says, ‘Hey, we’ll take you here and give you $150,000,’ how do you say ‘No’ to that?,” Esiason said.
Ian Eagle: Thursday Night Football Radio Crew Doesn’t Get Same Access as Amazon
“It’s a blank canvas. It is very much a play-by-play guy’s medium and you feel that when you show up.”
Ian Eagle is a busy man when it comes to play-by-play. During the NFL season, he is not only calling games on CBS with Charles Davis on television. He is also the voice of Thursday Night Football games on Westwood One Radio.
By calling two games in some weeks, Eagle gets the chance to see more teams to help him later in the year if he gets a game with that team on CBS. He was a guest on the Sports Media With Richard Deitsch podcast this week and he mentioned that doing Thursday Night Football on radio allows him to look at the game differently.
“It makes you a better broadcaster. It makes you more aware of situations, it gives you more reps. It forces you to look at the game from a different lens.”
In addition to helping him with his prep, Eagle has a soft spot for calling games on the radio.
“It’s really fun. It’s a fun thing to do. It’s a blank canvas. It is very much a play-by-play guy’s medium and you feel that when you show up.”
By doing the radio broadcast, Eagle gets the chance to work with different analysts whether it’s Hall-Of-Famer Joe Thomas or Jason and Devin McCourty. It makes Eagle have to approach the game differently to find chemistry, but the goal is to find common ground with whichever analyst he works with.
“Joe Thomas is really smart, highly experienced, highly cerebral. It forces me to put a different hat on. Worked with the McCourty twins in Philadelphia – a whole different experience of a three-man booth and two guys that sound alike and think the game a certain way, but have a different way of doing it and they are still trying to find their way. They are so new in the business, but so natural and gifted in how they see the game.”
At the same time, the access for the Thursday Night Football radio crew is a little different compared to what the Amazon Prime broadcast gets. However, Eagle enjoys the opportunity to work with the same radio crew consistently and form a bond with them.
“You don’t meet with the coaches, you don’t meet the players, you don’t have the same access. You’re not necessarily treated quite the same in your support staff, getting you in the stadium, getting you out the stadium, escorting you to the booth. You don’t have the bodies on a radio crew. What you do have is a close-knit group, people you work with consistently.”
Ricky Keeler is a reporter for BSM with a primary focus on sports media podcasts and national personalities. He is also an active podcaster with an interest in pursuing a career in sports media. You can find him on Twitter @Rickinator555 or reach him by email at [email protected].