Few people know what William Wesley actually does. But everyone in basketball knows he does it well.
With the reported addition of basketball power broker “World Wide Wes” — who is expected to take an undetermined role alongside his longtime friend, CAA colleague and soon-to-be Knicks president Leon Rose — the Knicks will instantly transform their maligned front office into one of the league’s most trusted among NBA players.
Wesley, 55, has long been considered one of the most powerful people at all levels of basketball, while officially working under the vague title of “consultant” at CAA. Wesley was given his nickname by Jalen Rose because of Wesley’s way of connecting anyone to anything.
Wielding an enormous amount of influence behind the scenes, Wesley has developed close relationships with LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, John Calipari, Jay-Z and countless other high-profile celebrities, such as the rapper Drake, who references Wesley in his song “Back to Back: “I learned the game from William Wesley, you can never check me.”
Wesley grew up in south Jersey, where he made numerous connections in basketball circles, including Rose, who became Wesley’s attorney. Wesley later met Jordan — who gave him a job at a basketball camp — and helped Iverson during legal troubles.
By carrying his sway over to AAU, Wesley was also able to steer numerous young high school stars — such as Dajuan Wagner and John Wall, who played under Calipari — to certain colleges, while serving as the top recruiter for Rose, who represented James until 2012.
Wesley is often seen sitting courtside at Kentucky games, giving legitimate oxygen to a new round of rumors that Calipari — who hasn’t coached in the NBA since a failed three-season stint with the Nets (1996-99) — could finally bolt Lexington and return to the pros.
Wesley has been the subject of numerous articles over the years, all attempting to pinpoint how he became one of the most important people in the sport. Somehow, though, Wesley developed unlikely authority while dealing with superstar players, coaches, general managers, agents and owners.
Even if you didn’t know him, you were watching him.
Wesley first came into the public eye when he escorted Ron Artest from the court during the 2004 “Malice at the Palace” and has been a fixture at games for the better part of two decades.
Now, Wesley’s inexplicable rise has taken another unlikely turn.
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