Jazz forward Karl Malone became his own agent Tuesday, after reaching a settlement with former advisor Bill Blakeley of Dallas.
"No one else is making decisions for Karl Malone," said Malone.Attorneys for both sides agreed on a reported $160,000 settlement for Blakeley and his firm, Talent Sports International. Last summer, Blakeley negotiated Malone's six-year, $6 million contract with the Jazz - the settlement is for about two-thirds of what Blakeley would have received over the six years for handling contract matters only. NBA Players Association guidelines call for agents to receive 4 percent of the player's salary for contract negotiations.
"I'm not downgrading anybody else's agent, but I don't need an agent," said Malone, who plans to honor the remaining five years of his Jazz contract. "I have mule sense and I know how to manage things."
Malone is employing Teri Shelton, formerly of Blakeley's firm, as an accountant. He also uses an Arkansas-based investment counselor and has interviewed candidates for a marketing position.
Blakeley was pleased with the settlement, but noted, "I'd rather have kept him as a client."
Blakeley, 54, a former college and pro coach, has established himself as a successful agent by representing NBA players like Malone, Joe Dumars, Spud Webb and Will Perdue. Malone has proven to be a difficult client, changing agents twice during his rookie season before returning to Blakeley.
Having signed his original four-year contract in July 1985, Malone became disenchanted with Blakeley and was briefly affiliated with ProServ of Washington, D.C. Before the end of his rookie season, he joined Sherwood Blount of Dallas. Blount, who later surfaced as the key figure in the SMU football scandal, wanted Malone to hold out for a new contract prior to his second season, but Malone opposed the strategy and went back to Blakeley in October 1986.
Malone threatened to leave Blakeley several times last season after the new Jazz contract was negotiated, but waited until after the playoffs to make his move. Undoubtedly, the major athlete representation firms will pursue Malone now, but he says he'll turn away all inquiries.
"I've taken my bumps and bruises, but I won't make the same mistake over," Malone said. "I don't want to see an agent. I hate the word `agent' now."