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LeBron James’ agent will lead UTA sports division as agencies bet on athletes

LeBron James debut as a Laker
LeBron James’ agent Rich Paul has been named head of UTA Sports.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

LeBron James’ agent and longtime friend Rich Paul has been hired to lead a sports division at Hollywood talent firm United Talent Agency in a move that gets the agency — known for supporting actors like Kevin Hart and Angelina Jolie — into the business of representing athletes.

Beverly Hills-based UTA on Wednesday said it has made a significant investment in Paul’s sports agency Klutch, which works for NBA stars including Anthony Davis, who recently joined James as a Laker, as well as Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and Washington Wizards’ John Wall.

Paul will be head of UTA Sports, where he will be charged with building UTA’s sports business for players on and off the field.

Financial details were not disclosed.

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The deal marks an expansion for UTA, led by Jeremy Zimmer, which works with talent including actors Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell and Kate McKinnon, as well as musicians Post Malone and DJ Khaled.

The agency has previously represented athletes only in their off-field or off-court activities. The company has helped the likes of Olympic gold medalists Shaun White and Tara Lipinski and NBA All-Star Chris Webber seek out opportunities in film, television, video games and endorsements.

UTA’s chief rivals, Creative Artists Agency and WME owner Endeavor, are both already major players in sports representation.

WME bought sports powerhouse IMG for more than $2 billion in 2013. Endeavor, which is planning an initial public offering, also owns mixed martial arts league UFC.

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The deal also comes at a time when athletes, including James, are building their own production companies to pursue creative interests and are increasingly influential in fashion and entertainment. James’ SpringHill Entertainment, known for producing “The Shop” on HBO and “Shut Up and Dribble” on Showtime, is represented by WME. James’ childhood friend Maverick Carter serves as SpringHill’s chief executive.

Paul founded Klutch Sports in September 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio. The firm has since expanded, with offices in Los Angeles.

“By focusing on growing clients’ businesses and putting their interests first, Klutch is built for the modern athlete who wants to thrive at the intersection of sports, media, music, art and culture,” Zimmer said in a statement.


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