Leon Rose is the reigning titan of basketball agency, a man who represents Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and LeBron James via his relationship with Hollywood's CAA talent agency. He has less impressive clients, too, but that trio puts him in a position of considerable power.
Over the past few months, Yahoo!'s own Adrian Wojnarowski has written several times about a group of agents who favor decertifying the union and exhausting all possible avenues to ensure that players hold on to as many of their current rights and privileges as possible. Rose is now part of that group, and this weekend they sent a letter to players imploring them to hold strong and not make any more concessions.
The letter has not been particularly successful. In fact, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard on Twitter, Rose's first high-profile client didn't take too kindly to it and even threatened to fire his long-time rep:
Source says Rip Hamilton told his agent Leon Rose he's upset Rose participated in letter, which is perceived by many as anti-union.
Source adds that Rip told Rose he'll leave & take other players with him if Rose doesn't leave the "anti-union" group.
UPDATE: Hamilton denies the report.
"Anti-union" is a bit of a vague term here, because the agents involved would certainly say they have the players' best interest in heart. In this case, the term really means "anti-Billy Hunter," because the agents feel as if he is more concerned with his job security than the outcome of the lockout. That may be unfair, but it's based on their perception of his actions.
The problem for any anti-Hunter agent, including Rose, is that their job is to represent their players, not persuade them by means of coercion. If Hamilton and other clients don't want the union to decertify, then Rose is making a big mistake in pushing for it. He can give advice, but he can't force his clients into situations they don't want. That's not really the job of an agent -- he's a guide rather than a superior officer.
Based on recent developments, it seems that the agents pushing decertification have lost out and will have to deal with Hunter for a while longer. Their error may have come not in pushing a bad idea, but in doing so without gauging the response and attitudes of the players they're supposed to represent.
- Leon Rose