Our lord and savior, John Calipari is once again piledging this land of its most talented basketball players for the greater good of the University of Kentucky program. Coach has followed up his record breaking 09 class with what could become the 2nd greatest class in UK history.
Throughout last year’s off season and this year’s off season, a certain name keeps surfacing. He is not a 5-* recruit, he is not a high school, AAU, or college coach, and he is not a parent of a recruit. To be honest, no one knows what he is; we only know his name is William (Worldwide Wes) Wesley Dude is so famous; we have to type his initials before we can type a web site’s address in a search bar, that’s large.
The reason I bring him up today is because, since Cal has gotten to Lexington, WWW’s presence has been felt in Lex too. Wes has been connected to numerous UK recruits over the past year. WW and John Wall were rumored to have some sort of relationship, not like that, not that there would be anything wrong with that if they were.
I don’t know where this came from, and if you do know, please send me the link and I will give credit where credit is due. It is a chronology of the life of Mr. Wesley according to public records and various other sources. I have no way of knowing if any of this is true, but it is damn interesting.
William Sidney Wesley is born.
Public records show some people called Wesley purchase a house at 112 Ivins Avenue in Merchantsville NJ. That same address is later associated with some of William Wesley’s business dealings.
William Wesley grows up across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, in Camden, New Jersey. He reportedly played basketball and football at Pennsauken High School. If he did indeed play basketball, he may have played against Leon Rose. He may or may not have breifly played college football. I have checked with several colleges where he did not play.
Wagner goes on to play at Louisville and in the NBA, and takes credit for introducing Wesley to lots of NBA figures. The Wikipedia entry started in the last few weeks reports “in the early 1980s, Wesley worked as a salesperson at Pro Shoe, a sporting goods company, specializing in high-end basketball shoes, on Haddonfield Road in Cherry Hill, N.J.” This is confirmed in multiple accounts. Pro Shoe is said to have been a small store across the street from the Cherry Hills mall, with all of the latest and greatest athletic shoes. It is here that Wesley is said to have made contact with many local athletes, including Milt Wagner.
Milt Wagner leaves Camden to play five years of college basketball at Louisville, making it to the Final Four three times.
Michael Jordan is drafted into the NBA in the year Wesley turns 20 years old. By many reports Wesley and Jordan would grow to become close confidants and friends. It is unclear exactly when they first met, but somehow or another, at some point, Wesley earned the trust of Michael Jordan. (One theory: they are both said to enjoy late-night gambling.) This may have been the greatest achievement of his stellar networking career. Consider that EVERYONE wanted a piece of Michael Jordan. Thousands, if not millions of people wanted to hang out with him every day. Somehow Milt Wagner’s friend from Camden made it into the inner circle.
Milt Wagner plays 40 games with the L.A. Lakers, wins a title, then is out of the league. GQ reports that “as Milt progressed from Louisville to the Lakers, Wes was there, watching.” One thing he reportedly learned: players need help getting mortgages. Wesley has told reporters that he makes his money working with Greentree Mortgage. An anonymous TrueHoop commenter who claims to have knowledge of the situation says “saying he makes his money in mortgages is like the Godfather telling everyone he made money in Olive Oil.”
According to The New York Times, Milt Wagner leaves the country to play basketball in Europe, trusting Wesley to keep an eye on his son Dajuan Wagner who is growing up in Camden with his mother. She would marry a man later convicted of being a Camden druglord.
Michael Jordan’s Bulls win their first of six championships (the last was in 1998). Scottie Pippen later tells John Canzano of the Oregonian that he remembers meeting Wesley in the early 1990s. Fred Girard of the Detroit News reports that “thanks to Wagner’s introductions, Wesley became associated with Michael Jordan’s prestigious basketball camp in California; helped stage All-Star Game parties, and eventually wound up in Chicago as part of Jordan’s circle and a regular at Jordan’s restaurant.” I have heard time and again that Wesley was active as a promoter of appearances by various Bulls. One person told me that in the heyday of Jordan’s Bulls, these kinds of appearances were happening after just about every road game of the preseason, regular season, and playoffs. (See 1997 for evidence of this.) Author Roland Lazenby tells TrueHoop Wesley is likely one in a long line of NBA “facilitators.” “The main thing facilitators do,” he says, “is procurement. People at that level have needs. They need tickets. They need good, safe, well-managed recreation. And you can’t go hire a company to get that kind of stuff for you.”
Milt Wagner’s second and final stint in the NBA is comprised of 13 games for the Miami Heat.
Leon Rose represents his first NBA client, Lionel Simmons.
The NJ Higher Education Assistance Authority sues William S. Wesley for a little under $5,000–presumably for failing to pay back a student loan in a timely fashion. However, our informant Eric says that William Wesley didn’t go to college, so this one’s a bit of a mystery. TrueHoop confirms with college registrars that Wesley did not go to many colleges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Also in 1994, Wesley forms W.W.E.S. Inc. with addresses in Chicago and New Jersey. Leon Rose is in the New Jersey listings as the registered agent.
Leon Rose represents his second NBA client, Rick Brunson.
Acting as a promoter and/or bodyguard for Dennis Rodman, who is in town with the Chicago Bulls, Wesley scuffles with a photographer at a nightclub in a Philadelphia suburb. Wesley is widely reported to be close to many of the Chicago Bulls from this era and is frequently linked to promoting athlete appearances at clubs and other venues. Leon Rose’s career has yet to take off. According to journalist Mark Kram, Rose signs Australian 7-footer Chris Anstey in 1997, then spends much of his time traveling back and forth to Australia to establish ties with other Australians hoping to play in the NBA or Europe.
Public records show that a man who is likely William Wesley’s father declares bankruptcy. By this year, or earlier, Wesley is reported to have his own office in Chicago. Around this time there is also the first suggestion that Bill Clinton may have a connection to William Wesley. It may have something to do with Hillary Clinton’s reported rabid support for the Bulls. Also in 1998, according to TrueHoop source Eric, Wesley attends Frank Sinatra’s funeral. This is not confirmed by media accounts of the event.
William Wesley purchases a condominium (photo) on McClurg Court in Chicago, which is also associated with some of his business dealings. That same year, he is sued by the building’s management for a little more than $2,500 in Cook County Municipal Court.
The Akron Beacon-Journal reports Wesley is visible on TV footage high-fiving Miami Hurricane players in the background as Coach Larry Coker is interviewed after winning the national championship. Wesley’s contemporary from Camden, Greg Mark, was a coach of that team. Mark coached Warren Sapp, which could explain the Beacon-Journal’s spotting of Wesley sitting courtside with Sapp at a Heat-Cavaliers game. Also in 2001, GQ and The New York Times publish articles that mention Wesley in an unflattering light, and he is not known to have spoken to the media on the record ever since. About this time, William Wesley reportedly has a child (in mid-2005, John Canzano reports that Wesley’s four-year-old accompanied him to a game). In 2001, Wesley’s reported close friend Michael Jordan makes a comeback playing in Washington alongside Richard Hamilton, who becomes an important confidant of Wesley, and eventually a Leon Rose client.
2002 is a big year for William Wesley. In June, his godson Dajuan Wagner is drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers. That in and of itself may have been reason enough for him to either rent or buy some kind of apartment or condominium in Cleveland. (Wagner’s agent is Leon Rose, who has also accrued Philadelphia-based players Aaron McKie, Eddie Jones, and Richard Hamilton. If anyone can help with dates of these players signing with Rose, that’d be great.) That also puts Wesley within easy driving distance of Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary high school, where Wesley is reportedly a figure on the sidelines during the football practices of a certain LeBron James. Numerous anonymous sources report that Wesley courts James, attempting to steer him to sign with Leon Rose, but is thwarted by James’s choice of Aaron Goodwin (when James is drafted in 2003). Also in 2002, following in the footsteps of Aaron McKie and some other teammates, Allen Iverson appoints Leon Rose as his agent for NBA matters. According to one article, Rose cites “mutual friends” as having been influential to the decision. Echoing other sources, Eric tells TrueHoop that Wesley steers players to Rose as part of an arrangement that appears to make Wesley a de facto agent. I have talked to a lot of people about William Wesley, and no one has yet disputed Eric’s central claim: Wesley steers players to Rose, who is registered as an NBA agent, but then Wesley collects the vast majority of the money that an agent would normally be entitled to.
Speaking in January 2006, Eric reports that “about three years ago” William Wesley sold a 10% stake in Jordan’s Jumpman brand that Jordan had given him years earlier. Others who know Jordan are skeptical he ever owned part of that brand, essentially because Jordan is apparently famous for not giving away money. (I have heard that Jordan supported a lot of his posse simply by signing things that they would then sell.) In 2003, William Wesley purchases another home in Mechanicsville, on Glenwood Avenue.
William Wesley buys yet another house in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Wesley spends part of his summer in Greece, living in close quarters with LeBron James, Allen Iverson, and the rest of the U.S. Olympic team.
In February, Wesley sits with LeBron James’ boyhood idol, Jay-Z, at the NBA All-Star game. It is suggested that Wesley gained influence with James by introducing him to Jay-Z. In March, in his first-ever ESPN column, Scoop Jackson calls Wesley the most powerful man in sports, apparently touching off a flurry of Wesley coverage. The Detroit News, Oregonian, and Akron Beacon-Journal all investigate Wesley without reaching conclusions as to how he supports himself. All report as fact that William Wesley had involvement in LeBron James’ decision to fire his agent, Aaron Goodwin. Goodwin is replaced by a team of friends and Leon Rose. An anonymous TrueHoop commenter insinuates that Wesley made promises to James’ friends in exchange for their cooperation in convincing James to dump Goodwin. Others suggest James dumped Goodwin of his own accord. LeBron James, William Wesley, Leon Rose, and James’s friends are in photos partying together at the end of 2005.
Early in 2005 or late in 2004, James was rumored to be on the brink of inking major endorsement deals with McDonald’s and Sony, although neither has happened as of this writing. TrueHoop commenters suggest that the change in agent may have had something to do with it, others blame internal company politics. Also in 2005, there are suggestions of a connection between Nike and Wesley. Wesley reportedly attends an NBA finals game with Malik Hairston, a player associated with an AAU team associated with Nike, Wesley, and Rip Hamilton. According to John Canzano, Hairston babysat Wesley’s four-year-old son during the game. At the end of 2005, a TrueHoop reader spots Wesley at a high school tournament involving The Family, a Nike-sponsored team. Vince Baldwin, known to be associated with Nike and the Family, confirms he escorted Wes to his seat.
Hairston, a coveted Family player, attends the University of Oregon, the alma mater of Nike founder Phil Knight, reportedly after Wesley’s counsel. I have heard unconfirmed stories of Wesley attempting to lure players to Nike. In the Detroit News, Fred Girard has reported that Wesley was involved in luring James to Nike in 2003, although that has been denied by others. The Detroit News quotes two Nike executives saying in vague terms that they don’t think Nike pays Wesley. Richard Hamilton is said to have a skybox at Pistons games that is frequented by Wesley and members of The Family. During the NBA Finals, Nike icon LeBron James, famously close to Wesley, chats with Wesley on his cellphone in the presence of a reporter.
Also in 2005, Larry Brown is widely reported to be involved in back-channel negotiations with the Cleveland Cavaliers, even as he is under contract with the Detroit Pistons. (Cavs coach Mike Brown admitted as much.) Some reports identify Wesley as an intermediary between William Wesley and the owners of the Cavaliers.
By late 2005 and early 2006, Wesley is heavily associated with LeBron James and the Cavaliers, and is frequently spotted in excellent seats (reportedly sometimes seats belonging to Nike) at Cavs games at home and on the road.