In some non-playoff but still intriguing news, Houston Rockets leading man James Harden is now being represented by his own mother, Monja Willis.
According to KHOU and Business Journal, Ms. Willis confirmed this in a call with the Journal, letting everyone know that Harden was no longer being represented by Landmark Sports Agency.
This switch marks Harden’s third rep in just two years, as his original agent, Rob Pelinka, left in 2017 to become GM of the Los Angeles Lakers. He then switched to Diana Day after Pelinka left, before now settling on good ol’ mom. It hasn’t been specified anywhere how long Willis has been representing Harden.
It’s an interesting decision for a player who just signed a $228 million extension last season and also has a sneaker deal and numerous other endorsements, including the now famous State Farm Backstreet Boys commercial he filmed with teammates Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza.
Also according to Business Journal, Harden was Forbes Magazine’s 45th highest-paid celebrity last year, raking in $46.6 million dollars in salary and endorsements combined.
Then again, with all these deals already in place, it’s possible he needed someone just to manage things at the status quo for the time being, and who better to do that than someone you know, love, and trust.
But still, you would have to think an agent or agency will need to be involved at some point when deals need to be extended or renegotiated. There’s so much legalese involved in these things, and one would have to assume that a non-professional would be at a disadvantage in high-level negotiations.
Not to take anything away from The Beard’s mom. I’m sure she’s smart and capable. In fact, she’s already been working behind the scenes throughout her son’s career on building a business team around him. This is hardly new hat for her, as she told Fox last year:
“It’s hard to build a team. I don’t just trust anyone, especially with my son’s business.”
But players, especially the superstars, are usually represented by agencies with squads of lawyers for a reason: because the teams and companies the players are negotiating with all are too (and there’s a lot of sharks out there).
I’m sure they’ll be fine for now though, and despite the somewhat checkered history in professional sports of athletes and their parents being involved professionally, The Beard and his mom have always been shown as very close. This is just another fine example of that bond.