Lakers News: LeBron James Defends Agent Rich Paul Amid Mounting Criticism, Denies Visit To Duke-Virginia Game Was ‘Recruiting Trip’ For Zion Williamson
LeBron James, Rich Paul, Lakers
Andrew D. Bernstein-NBAE via Getty Images

LeBron James bucked the trend in 2002 when he followed close friend Rich Paul who created the Klutch Sports Group. Paul has represented James as his agent ever since, and added to a growing list of clients.

James entrusting Paul and their small circle of close friends from high school has been a source of friction and criticism within the NBA. Though, the group steadily gained the respect of their contemporaries as James’ career and off-court business ventures grew.

However, Paul and Klutch Sports again came under fire for their handling of the Anthony Davis trade demand. Paul reportedly informed the New Orleans Pelicans of Davis’ preference to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, setting off tampering sirens.

Now, James and Paul being part of a contingent that made a recent trip to watch No. 2 Duke play the No. 4 Virginia Cavaliers, has earned them more criticism. So much so that James publicly pushed back on the notion they were there to recruit Zion Williamson, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin:

“A recruiting trip? I didn’t talk to anybody,” James told ESPN. “They’re only saying that because it’s Rich. When Shaq came to see me play in high school, when A.I. came to see me play in high school, they weren’t saying it was a recruiting trip then. But because it’s Rich Paul and LeBron, now it’s a recruitment trip.

“Now Rich is a threat to everybody, and they look at it and they want to keep trying to jab my agent and jab my friend. And what is he doing that’s wrong? They don’t say that about no other agent when other guys go see [players]. They don’t say that about no other agent, but my guy because he’s a threat.

“And he’s African-American, too. Throw that in there.”

Paul additionally has been accused by the Boston Celtics of intentionally leaking Kyrie Irving’s purported interest in signing with the New York Knicks in free agency in attempt to undermine potential trade talks for Davis this summer.

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