OKC Thunder players Chris Paul and Darius Bazley speak out on NCAA ‘Rich Paul Rule’

Lebron James, Chris Paul, Randy Mims, Meek Mill and Rich Paul celebrate Kevin Hart's 40th Birthday, OKC Thunder (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Rémy Martin)
Lebron James, Chris Paul, Randy Mims, Meek Mill and Rich Paul celebrate Kevin Hart's 40th Birthday, OKC Thunder (Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Rémy Martin) /

The NCAA agent rule change dubbed the ‘Rich Paul rule’ had OKC Thunder players like Chris Paul and Darius Bazley taking to social media to offer their opinions on this seemingly biased rule.

Two new members of the OKC Thunder took umbrage with a new NCAA ruling. For those who haven’t heard about the new rule, it’s geared specifically toward agents.

Because the initial understanding of the rule was jumped on immediately by LeBron James on social media the fallout was fans read into his comments assuming Rich Paul somehow was being singled out and a rule was created to ostracize him from interaction with NCAA athletes. Hence the coining of the ‘Rich Paul Rule’. However, the issue isn’t quite as cut and dry as it would appear on first glance as you’ll see below.

The rule change:

The rule specifics were outlined by Jon Rothstein who is a College Basketball Insider for CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated, and WFAN.

Notably, the new rule requires agents to possess a Bachelor’s Degree, must be certified by the NBA Players Association for a term of three years and the agent must pass a test (in-person) at the NCAA offices in Indianapolis.

And, as per Sam Vecenie, here’s the full memo sent to agents:

Who is Rich Paul?

Rich Paul, is the owner of Klutch Sports Group a sports agency who represents a number of the top players in the NBA. One of those players is OKC Thunder rookie Darius Bazley who got ample media coverage when Paul negotiated an internship deal for the youngster at New Balance. That deal led to Bazley earning $1 million dollars last season which he elected to do instead of attending college.

Paul is also best buddies with LeBron James (who is also his client) and has quickly risen to be among the top agents in the business. Of the 27 NBA players on Paul’s client list, two are OKC Thunder players, Bazley and Terrance Ferguson. In addition, Paul represents some elite stars like James, Anthony Davis, John Wall, Ben Simmons, and Draymond Green.

Players call out NCAA:

Both OKC Thunder players Chris Paul and rookie Darius Bazley jumped on the new rule and to Rich Paul’s defense.

CP3’s involvement isn’t surprising for several reasons. First of all, as the President of the Players Association, Chris has never shied away from items he considers political or social in nature. And, he’s a member of the banana boat crew otherwise known as the quartet of buddies including LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul.

Paul’s tweet came on the heels of buddy LeBron James who was less cautious in pointing out who he felt the rule was targeted at.

As for rookie Bazley, he has a vested interest in the matter since he’s a client of Klutch Sports and Rich Paul is his agent.


Other players who took to social media to make their feeling know were mostly buddies of LeBron James or clients of Rich Paul like Miles Bridges, Darius Garland, and Tristan Thompson as per below:


National media attacked the issue:

More from Thunderous Intentions

Media took to the matter with opposite viewpoints on the rule change. On one side, Jason Whitlock, Host of Speak For Yourself felt this was LeBron generating fake news stating the college basketball players this applies to are the borderline players who are questioning if they should enter the draft, not the ones already committed to the draft or in the lottery portion of it which RP would be most interested in.

On the other side of the spectrum, Michael McCann the legal representative for Sports Illustrated took an entirely different stance stating Rich Paul has grounds to sue basing this on an anti-trust violation argument. Meaning the NCAA is trying to dictate who is eligible to have access to their athletes. The argument being the schools are conspiring to create an anti-competitive environment. McCann spoke about the issue which can be viewed here.

The only players this truly affects are those who aren’t certain they’ll enter the draft and are simply testing the water. So there is some truth to Whitlock’s point these aren’t athletes Paul would typically be dealing with.

That said, the real issue here is how the NCAA imposes drastically different rules and control over their basketball and football programs. Why? Well, in simple terms it’s all about money. NCAA basketball generates major revenue via the March Madness Tournament and Football has bowl games contributing to revenue.

Jay Bilas, who is an experienced and knowledgeable NCAA analyst cites Yahoo scribe Dan Wetzel may have the best take of all on the matter stating: Why are basketball players treated so differently? Because they are revenue generating ASSETS. These rules are not to protect the athlete.

In fact, Wetzel’s article raises the best points regarding basketball at the NCAA level. Why is it NCAA hockey players can be drafted by an NHL team and still play in college but a basketball athlete can’t?

The answer is simple – dollars and cents. Colleges make more money off their basketball players so they want to control them and their choices.

No doubt, this situation is just the starting point in these types of discussions and as the NBA nears the point where high school athletes will once again be eligible to forego an initial college season we’ll likely experience more of these types of conversations.

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Without a doubt, Colleges are making money off their student basketball players and until that dynamic changes where everyone feels certain the athlete and their education is the priority this debate isn’t going away.