On Wednesday, the New York Knicks announced the hiring of William Wesley as executive vice president – Senior Basketball Advisor.
The assumption raised his eyebrows. Wesley isn’t a name well known to the average fan, but by all accounts, the man surnamed “World Wide Wes” has been a power broker in the NBA for decades.
The move doesn’t come as a total shock, although there is some surprise at stake. Leon Rose, president of New Knicks, said in a statement announcing the move that he had been close to Wesley for over 40 years. Wesley has worked with Rose at the CAA agency for the past decade.
Before that, Wesley’s role in the NBA and in the basketball world in general has been more difficult to define, but has been the subject of great intrigue.
Wesley and Rose have been friends for a long time, both of whom have come from the South Jersey / Philadelphia area. According to the GQ profile, Wesley started at a shoe store in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, made some connections to the stars of the local circles and started climbing social stairs from there.
“Wes is such a perfect realization of the modern American dream – full of old-fashioned wheel greasing, bustle and social climbing – that it seems written for the big screen,” wrote French.
In the 1990s, Wesley got to know Michael Jordan and started working on one of Jordan’s basketball courts, which GQ described as Wesley’s “big break”.
Over the years, Wesley has worked closely with Jordan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and others. As Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic wrote, however, Wesley’s exact role in the NBA is “hazy”.
It is unclear to what extent Wesley is still a power broker in the NBA. According to the Frenchman, Wesley approached players such as James, Anthony and Dwyane Wade by staying on a cruise ship during the 2004 Olympics. With some of these players out of the league or about to retire, it is unclear how much Wesley is is connected to today’s stars.
In recent years, Wesley has been a coaching agent, notoriously connected to John Calipari of Kentucky. According to Sopan Deb of the New York Times, Wesley helped Calipari’s recruiting efforts.
SNY’s Ian Begley wrote Wednesday that Wesley is “long regarded as one of the most important people in high school to NBA basketball circles. He has established relationships with players and coaches at all levels of the game.”
In a Wednesday statement, Wesley said his personal relationship with Rose and Knicks owner James Dolan convinced him to finally work with a team. Vorkunov reported that Wesley recently worked with the Knicks.
In an interview with MSG Networks on Wednesday, Rose touted Wesley’s ability to develop relationships, saying he’ll be a resource for the Knicks.
Although his exact role is somewhat unknown at the moment, his connections help a team stuck in a perpetual reconstruction.
“Wes is everywhere,” an NBA executive told Vorkunov. “He’s a professional, he’s in college, he’s at Nike. Wes is probably one of the best people I’ve ever seen building a relationship.”