You have probably read that Michael Beasley is being sued by Joel Bell, his former agent, for failing to pay a 20% commission on an endorsement deal. Beasley, in turn, is suing Bell as well as, Curtis Malone, his former AAU coach and mentor. Beasley’s suit claims that Bell and Malone conspired to manipulate the teenaged Beasley and his family–with money and friendship–into signing with Bell. Here’s what it says in Beasley’s complaint:
In addition to funneling money to Beasley’s mother from [Bell], [Malone] received benefits for his D.C. Assault program and money from [Bell] “on the side” or “under the table” in exchange for [Malone] at least attempting to manipulate NBA prospects like Beasley, but typically far less talented than Beasley, into signing an agency agreement with [Bell].
Now I have no business assessing the validity of the particulars here. It could be that Beasley really was a victim or that he is simply countersuing for legal leverage. But the awful truth is that these claims are unremarkable; even if they aren’t true in this specific case, they are true in legions of others. This is because the AAU circuit (and its kissing cousins in college and sports agency recruiting) is a system that runs on the exploitation of teenagers, many of whom, like the young Mike Beasley, are poor and/or sorely in need of stable, nurturing relationships. It is terrible.
There are lots of sad elements to this case: the revelation that as a kid, Beasley was “assessed as having special education needs” stemming from “conduct problems” and an inability to focus; the fact that he attended six high schools in five different states, which is really just a tremendous approach to serving those special ed needs; the fact that many of the most important adults in his young life seemed to view their relationship with him as a commodity.