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Getting to Know John Wall’s Agent, Dan Fegan

When an athlete picks and agent, what should he look for? Someone who pays a runner or directly pays the athlete to get his attention, or someone who is extremely driven and knowledgeable about Contract Law and negotiation strategy? I would pick the latter agent. Too many players pick the former.

Over the weekend, I had a chance to read Henry Abbott’s piece on Lagardère Unlimited basketball agent, Dan Fegan. That Fegan has a Juris Doctorate degree from Yale University doesn’t impress me as much as the fact that Abbott says Fegan is an intensely driven and calculating strategist and that he nitpicks contracts line-by-line and revels in outmaneuvering opponents. I may be off on a couple of agents, but I doubt the guys who are throwing money at players are amongst the best at reading and redlining contracts. And they compensate with the purse.

A few interesting notes I took from Abbott’s piece:

  • Fegan isn’t big on technology. He relies on his assistant to stay connected to others through the web.
  • Based on the pictures, no matter how busy Fegan is, it looks like he is keeping in shape. While that might not be a huge thing to a lot of people, it’s something that impresses me. Being an agent can be tolling and time-consuming, but staying healthy is important for the body and the mind.
  • At John Wall’s post-draft dinner, Dan Fegan was photographed playing a game of chess and drinking a glass of wine. Why do I find this interesting? Because the picture could be of Fegan with a huge smile and bottles in both hands…but it’s not. I like that.

Check this out:

Through the day, as Fegan talks to one front-office executive after another. Many of them bleed Fegan for information. Nearly every time he is entirely forthcoming in sharing what he knows.

I ask him why … are there not advantages in keeping some secrets, and preserving his ability to bluff? For instance, wouldn’t it be good to be able to convince a team they’ll have to use an early pick on one of his clients, because some other GM is sure to pick him shortly after?

Fegan says a lot of agents do well keeping information to themselves. “But I’m a chess player, not a card player,” he explains. “I’m OK with having all the pieces on the board, and thinking a few moves ahead. Other people have a different strategy, and don’t want you to see all their cards.”

That statement, itself, is a chess move, and I love it. Sometimes I receive the same question – “Why are you so open on your blog, company website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.?”  Occasionally, people tell me it will hurt me. For the most part, though, people are enthused by my style. I believe that openness, with a solid strategy in mind, is best.  It looks like Fegan agrees.

Perhaps Fegan reads this post.  But I assume that if he does, his assistant Joyce Li will have to show it to him.


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