The Sports Entrepreneurs Podcast by Marcus Luer

David Falk, The NBA Super Agent Goat

April 5, 2020

 

Having the opportunity to interview one of the true Superstars of our industry was a privilege and honour. David, is not just the well known “Super Agent” of Michael Jordan but he is truly someone who changed the face of our industry and still is at the age of 70.  Listen, learn and enjoy. Tons of wisdom in that 1.5 hours.  

 

Key Highlights

  1. Suburb of New York upbringing and his parents influence
  2. Always had a passion for Law & having College Basketball players as his buddies
  3. 1972, early days of Sports Agents - trying to get a meeting with Donald Dell (called him 17 times in 4 hours)
  4. Start working for Donald for free while finishing his Law degree, just to get into the industry
  5. At 25 big break to handle major clients, became Donald’s Chief of staff
  6. Developing his own style of negotiations “always overprepare”
  7. Michael Jordan and Barry Bond story about work ethics
  8. His style of negotiations and how it changed over time (building relationships)
  9. Negotiation is not a zero sum game, both sides need to be in the same “zone”
  10. Being liked vs being respected
  11. Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan deal with Nike (the real story how Air Jordan name came about)
  12. Size of Deals during those Days (early 80s) and how he was able to craft the deal
  13. Michael wanted Adidas and didn’t want to see Nike
  14. His relationship with Michael now
  15. The last Dance – new movie about Michael’s final season
  16. 1984 as a Rookie, Michael’s first commercial deals (McDonald’s, a small local deal in Chicago)
  17. Coke, McDonald and Chevrolet – all American Image
  18. Gatorade, break thru deal 1991 (10 years, seven figure deal)
  19. The biggest and best deals, don’t just take cash, look for equity  
  20. The start of FAME (David’s own agency)
  21. A man has got to know his limitations
  22. Marque & SFX story (now Live Nation)
  23. You need a “walk away” point in a deal – his target was US$ 100 million
  24. Goldman Sachs Chairman story
  25. His SFX time, buying other smaller agencies, culture is key
  26. SFX US$ 4.5 billion merger with Clear Channel story
  27. Round 2 with Donald
  28. Big agencies and the huge competition between them
  29. Big Basketball stars, new route, family offices
  30. Tennis prodigy story – the next Serena Williams
  31. Learning from mistakes – Stephan Marbury story
  32. Current Ventures, dozen different companies, X-Factory (Sports tech accelerator), etc
  33. Never too old to learn

 

About

David Falk has long been recognized as one of the sports industry’s leading figures and most talented innovators. He is recognized as the NBA Super Agent of his time and the man behind Michael Jordan’s commercial success. A trained lawyers, he began his career representing professional athletes with ProServ in 1974, rising to Vice Chairman of the company. In 1992, he formed Falk Associates Management Enterprises (FAME) to provide specialized and personal representation service to the company’s elite clientele of NBA superstars. ​

During his career, Falk has represented more NBA first-round draft selections, lottery picks, Rookies-of-the-Year, and All-Stars than anyone else in the athlete management business. In 1985, he negotiated Michael Jordan’s ground-breaking deal with Nike--the most successful endorsement relationship in history--and in the process coined the nickname “Air Jordan.” Falk negotiated the highest contracts in NBA league history for Patrick Ewing in 1985 and Danny Ferry in 1990. He also negotiated professional sports’ first $100 million contract in 1996 for Alonzo Mourning as part of an unprecedented free agency period in which FAME changed the entire salary structure of the NBA, negotiating over $400 million in contracts for its free agent clients in a six-day period. ​

In 1998, Falk sold FAME to SFX Entertainment for US$ 200 million, serving on SFX’s Board of Directors and in the Office of the Chairman. As Chairman of SFX Sports Group, Falk oversaw the acquisition of a dozen sports agencies that enabled SFX to represent approximately 20 percent of MLB and NBA players. Falk stepped down as Chairman in 2001 to pursue other interests. In January 2007, Falk re-launched FAME and currently serves as its Founder and CEO.​

Falk is also involved in a dozen ventures now, both as an investor and advisor.