First Person Singular: Sports agent Jim Tanner

Jim Tanner, 41<br>Sports lawyer / agent, Williams & Connolly LLP
Jim Tanner, 41
Sports lawyer / agent, Williams & Connolly LLP (KK Ottesen)
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

I got to high school and started doing debate. I think that's what pointed me in the direction of being an attorney. I loved debate: dealing with the issues, trying to come up with the arguments, the competition of it.

The sports world is filled with pressure: pressure for the athletes to perform; to live up to the contracts that they are able to secure; to meet or exceed expectations of them from their teammates, the organizations that they play for and from the fans. I think when the guys are paid that kind of money, it does come with additional responsibility, not just on the court but off the court -- you know, being an ambassador for the team and being a representative in the community. And I think on the same side, it's a very pressure-filled world for the representatives.

You've got to be on a call pretty much at all hours. Sometimes you'll have clients playing overseas, so they're calling in the middle of the night, waking you up with issues. Some days you're called upon to be an attorney, dealing with straight legal issues; some days you're called upon to be a marketing person, negotiating endorsement deals; other days you're more like big brother.

You can have a much more personal relationship representing an individual as opposed to a corporation, and I find that appealing. I think one of the most exciting moments [for me] was being in the [NBA] draft room with Marvin Williams. You're in the green room -- the area of the draft where the prospects that are going to be the first 15 or 20 picks and their families are. There were eight of us: his family, his brothers, his friend and me -- waiting for his name to be called. You may know the range where a guy's going to go, but you may not know exactly where. So the commissioner calls his name -- No. 2 -- he gets up, and all the cameras rush over to him.

Everybody's excited, he hugs all his family members, hugs everyone at the table, and then he goes up and shakes hands with the commissioner. Gets the team hat. I mean, it's definitely a life-long dream they've all been preparing for since they were kids. Everybody wants to go up on stage and shake hands with Commissioner [David] Stern and put the hat on. But they're nervous about it, and you've got to let them know what to expect and what's going to happen. You're their liaison, their advocate.

Interview by KK Ottesen

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