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Ari Emanuel stuffs CAA with role in ESPN's LeBron James deal

July 8, 2010 | 12:22 pm

LeBron Usually, when agents score a big deal they like to boast about it.

But Creative Artists Agency has been curiously mum about a bona fide coup involving NBA superstar client LeBron James, who will announce where he will play next season Thursday night during an hourlong prime time special on ESPN.

Here's one reason: William Morris Endeavor Agency Co-Chief Executive Ari Emanuel was behind the scenes working with James' camp on the deal. Veteran sportscaster Jim Gray recounted the story on Dan Patrick's radio show this morning.

Gray said he saw James' business partner, Maverick Carter, and Emanuel during one of the games of the NBA finals. He suggested James do an hourlong show devoted to his decision. He subsequently saw Carter and James at a restaurant after the game, and they discussed the idea.

"What Maverick really liked is that he could raise a lot of money for charity," Gray said on the radio show.

Emanuel called Carter the next day to follow up -- suggesting that the announcement be used as a fund-raiser to benefit charity.

ESPN agreed to donate the time, sponsors committed about $3 million -- which Nike has pledged to match. Proceeds go to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

The deal was a two-fer for Emanuel: get close to James, and poke a finger in the eye of a rival agency that has been spending a lot of time trying to build a presence in the sports world.

With that kind of score, who needs a commission? A CAA spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

--Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers will announce his decision of which team he will sign with during a live broadcast on ESPN. Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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