The other day, I was reading a Yahoo! Sports column by Adrian Wojnarowski. The column was Woj reporting that "World Wide Wes" was telling league execs that trading for Chris Paul was the best way to land LeBron James. My first thought was, "Who is World Wide Wes?"
Apparently, "World Wide Wes" is William Wesley, a mortgage broker from New Jersey, and a power broker in the NBA. Now, some of you may already know who he is. It seems TrueHoop on ESPN.com did a series of articles attempting to uncover just what exactly his role is, and what he does. There was also an article in GQ about him, which is linked from his Wikipedia page, which I will also link here, as it is a phenomenal read, really explains what he does, and is responsible for most of the information I'm putting in this post. But to sum it up in a quote from Wesley himself, "I just know everybody." But does the average basketball fan know who he is?
His big break came when high school pal and eventual NBAer Milt Wagner introduced him to Michael Jordan. He also hobnobbed with elite college and NBA talent working at a high end athletic shoe store in New Jersey. He has close associations with people from the AAU, NCAA, and NBA. At the time the GQ article was written, John Calipari called him a "goodwill ambassador" of Memphis' basketball program. He is the reason DaJuan Wagner (Milt's son and Wesley's godson), Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans attended Memphis, and probably the reason John Wall went to Kentucky (this I don't know for sure, as I haven't read anything about Wall and Wesley, but he does seem to funnel the top HS talent to Calipari, no?).
He introduced LeBron James to Jay-Z. He is the reason his close friend and attorney Leon Rose's client list went from nobodies to guys like Rip Hamilton and ultimately LeBron James. He's a guy league execs call when they need help dealing with a problem player. He's a guy who takes players new to the league under his wing, someone they can call if they need help getting a custom suit, if they want to meet their idols currently playing in the league (or making records somewhere) or if they just want their cornrows done properly. He is a guider and shaper of the entire process that funnels talent into the league, as well as the ringleader of the dog-and-pony show that is the LeBron James free agency. William Wesley is arguably the most powerful and influential person in the sport of basketball, and I had never heard of him. Go figure.
Here's the link to the GQ article, if you're interested, I highly recommend it, even if it was written a few years ago: http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/200706/william-wesley-worldwide-wes-nba-basketball