Worldwide Wes - Who?

Worldwide Wes is considered by many to be the most powerful man in basketball. Wait, who? My thoughts exactly. Allow me to elaborate: while reading the 2nd part of Royce's favorite column of the year (the Sports Guy's Annual Trade Value column), Simmons tells us a story about Worldwide Wes, a man who "...carries more weight within the league than basically anybody." The story is interesting, and the quote that comes out of the story is a classic, yet I found myself asking "why haven't I even heard of this guy?

So, I did a little bit of searching, and came across this insightful GQ piece. Now, after reading, my only question is this: "Is this guy so sleazy that he comes off as a good guy, or is he genuinely a good guy?"

PS. The picture accompanying this article is from the (in)famous "Malice at the Palace" (which, I might add, Cedric the Entertainer speaks to in this entertaining bit).


  1. Upon further reflection (first read this a few days ago), I think the answer to my question is some combination of the two...yes, I know - way to go out on a limb there Scott, but here's my reasoning:

    (1) He's a good guy since it appears as though he's very much so concerned about how any one action will affect a player (especially, the youngin's).

    (2) However, you can't deny the the fact that he's making bank off of his "altruistic" actions.

    Ergo, it's a combo of the two, and I'd put it at 70/30 (good/sleaze) today, and 20/80 10 years ago.

  2. I'd say my determination of whether he is good or sleazy really comes down to one factor: How does he make a living?

    Everyone mentions that Wes never asks anyone for anything (and they like that). He never gets any money from college coaches or agents who benefit from all of Wes's connections. In fact, the entire article never once mentions what he does for a living.

    If he has some outside source of income not related to high school, college and pro basketball, then its a decent chance he's mostly a good guy and really strives to simply know and be friends with all these famous people. If he's getting paid by agents, coaches or sponsors, then it's almost entirely a sleazy operation.

  3. What if he doesn't actually receive money, but gets comps (or, the like) from all his connections? For example, when he meets a new teenager, and introduces him to his idol (say, LeBron @ the Nike camp), does Nike pay for everything?

    I get the feeling that the main source of income for Wes is 100% related to his connections. While it may not be the above scenario, but I can't imagine him making much moolah on the side with his uber busy lifestyle, right?

  4. Actually Aaron, in the GQ article it says he is a mortgage broker by day. So he has a fairly solid day job.

    I agree that this is what separates him. His income may or may not come 100% from his connections, but his lifestyle is definitely 100% from his connections. Does that make sense?

    He's a professional networker, his life revolves around rubbing shoulders with the biggest names - being able to call MJ and Jay-Z on a whim and hang out with them. It's what his entire life is predicated on.

    So here is how I would ask it... what does he do with guys who do not make it as stars? I would assume he is still close with his godson DaJuan Wagner, who flamed out of the NBA, is that true? What about the AAU kids who didn't pan out? If his connections can't provide him with any lifestyle perks anymore, does he still give them the time of day?

    I think the answer to that question will define the quality of his character, because I do feel convinced after the GQ article that he doesn't go to players and outright ask them for things or have a me-first agenda. He's just always there, a networker and a facilitator.

  5. "He's just always there, a networker and a facilitator."

    So, he's alcohol for aspiring NBA players?

  6. I still don't think he gets that much revenue from his mortgage broker business. And, if he does, I'd imagine a portion of that is actually a direct result of his NBA connections ("Why don't you purchase this house for your mom through me since I hooked you up with Nike?").

    Am I being entirely too cynical here? If so, let me know, cause the more I think about this guy, the more I picture him as a dirty wheel-greaser.

  7. No I think what you say is a distinct possibility. I don't think you're being too cynical, although to dismiss Wes out of hand if he does make most his business through his connections is shortsighted. In fact, most successful business men I know operate exactly the same way. It's just their connections aren't high-profile and they talk primarily to businessmen, not unproven ballers with upside potential.

    Again, once he is providing legitimate value to guys in the league (the one source says "need a suit tailored? Wes knows a guy. Need a barber on the road? Wes knows a guy" - well, I bet those tailors and barbers are paying Wes a tip for the business) then he can honestly claim he's not predatory. And I think that's true, if he is providing a service he's not "dirty" as you call it.

    And the advice he dispenses in Simmons' column ("You can't chase the night") is actually good advice for those young bucks. He looked out for them there. So to look at him as being all bad because he is mysterious is wrong.

    But I maintain that if he cuts you out of his life once you can't provide anything back to him for his network, then I would say he is probably not the most genuine friend you've ever met. Is that fair to say?

  8. "...not the most genuine friend you've ever met."

    That's letting him off too easily given what you said previously. If he's always there (e.g. barber) for those that made it, and then never there for those that didn't, he's as sleazy a human you'll ever find. Unfortunately, I'm finding myself finding him guilty until proven innocent, mainly due to his ubiquitous mysteriousness.

    However, if we find him helping the have-nots long after the spotlight's left them behind, then I'd want him in my corner.

  9. If you've got ESPN insider, here's another breakdown of Worldwide Wes via NBA Player X. The two key comments (imo):

    1) "Nobody really knows who pays him. I'm good friends with him, and I still don't know."

    Seems fishy to me, but whatever.

    2) "Right away I knew he was different from the other sketchy dudes hanging around because he didn't ask me for anything."

    Nice - but does he act the same to those he's "connected" from a young age who didn't make it? Someone get me his tax records...

  10. I continue to love Wes Watch. To me it seems 100% clear who pays him - the service providers who benefit from his recommendations. I think he gets small kickbacks in cash from the barbers, tailors, luxury car salesmen, and other vendors who sell goods to players that Wes recommends. He doesn't promise them business, but when he brings it to them they show their gratitude the old fa$hioned way.

    I also think a large part of his "payment" really just involves high level perks from all his contacts. He may never get paid by the players or even big Nike reps (too easy to trace), but he sure as hell gets free tickets to any game, camp, or media event he wants to go to. He gets to live the lifestyle without ever paying a bill, all in the form of perks from friends.

    Doesn't that seem like an accurate portrayal?

  11. It does, but where does he get the money for some of the harder-to-comp daily necessities - you know, like a house?

  12. I'm with Scott...I only care about two expenses, and really only one. His house and his groceries (but if he eats out all the time, there may not be any groceries).

  13. Well it said in the first article that he's a mortgage broker by trade. Sounds like he has a day job?

  14. Again - I highly doubt he has time for his brokerage (unless, he's got a TON of people working for him who run the business).

  15. Well, let me put it this way... don't you think of all the thousands of connections he has, some of them have family trying to buy homes? Especially since a lot of these guys can afford to buy a home with their first contract?

  16. Good point, and I guess that's no different than any other broker building his/her network through word-of-mouth and other means. If this is the case, perhaps I would feel better if those whom he's helped over the years actually recognized that, while he doesn't explicitly ask them for money, he does earn it through their purchasing of mortgages through his brokerage?

    Yes - he's a private individual, and his privacy should be maintained, but this is the 3rd or 4th story that's come out about him being the most powerful man in the league, yet he continues to enshroud himself in mystery. Shouldn't he have learned something from the Tiger debacle - namely, it's best to confront, head-on, all speculation and confusion to avoid the snowball effect?

  17. ESPN's NBA blog TrueHoop has posted a comprehensive Worldwide Wes article which covers many of the same issues we discussed here.

    It's a very interesting read. I'll give it some time to simmer then come back with some thoughts a bit later on.