Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
If you haven’t yet seen the latest version of ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” we highly recommend watching it as soon as possible. This Sunday’s program presented tremendous reportering by Kelly Naqi, who conducted a four-month investigation into the relationship between USC freshman basketball player O.J. Mayo and Los Angeles event promoter Rodney Guillory.Louis Johnson, a former member of Mayo’s inner circle, comes forward with all kinds of evidence, including numerous receipts, alleging that Guillory received an estimated $250,000 from BDA Sports Management to cultivate a relationship with Mayo from the time he was in high school so that Mayo would ultimately chose that agency to represent him when he turned pro, which he did in April. BDA, owned by agent Bill Duffy, also represents Steve Nash, Yao Ming and Carmelo Anthony.
Johnson says that of that $250,000, about $30,000 of it went directly to Mayo in the form of cash, clothing, food, a cell phone, a flat-screen television and other benefits, all in violation of NCAA regulations. Guillory, meanwhile, drove a $50,000 Infiniti SUV that was bought from the money he received from BDA.
“O.J. really saw a lot of the scraps. The fact of the matter is O.J. has been pimped by Rodney,” Johnson told ESPN. “He’s been pimped by him.”
Under California state law, Naqi reports, it is a misdemeanor for sports agents or their representatives to provide cash or gifts to student athletes, yet Johnson tells Naqi that BDA paid for a portion of Mayo’s expenses even while he was in high school.
“Rodney’s whole thing with O.J. was he bought the relationship,” Johnson told ESPN. “I mean, there’s no question, he bought the relationship.”
“Rodney had a steady flow of cash that was coming in through his relationship with BDA. He had a credit card that was set up…and each month there would be X amount of dollars that would be dispersed to this account.”
The 6-foot-5 Mayo ultimately did pick BDA’s Calvin Andrews to represent him, yet denies any wrongdoing, as did Duffy in a statement.
Guillory ends up looking pretty guilty in offering a sheepish “no comment” to Naqi.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.