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Fame Jam

Making millions for NBA Stars: the high-powered world of super agents David Falk, Curtis Polk and Mike Higgins.
Alejandro Benes
From the Print Edition:
James Woods, May/Jun 97

Wedges of half-eaten cheesecake form a circle in front of the people seated at the round table inside Madison Square Garden's Suite 200. As he walks in, David Falk quickly notices that George Steinbrenner, trademark white turtleneck and all, is standing next to the table. Falk puts his hand on the arm of the principal owner of the world champion New York Yankees.

"George, I'm David Falk. I just wanted to say hello," Falk says.

"Hi, David, are you in from Chicago?" asks Steinbrenner, a friend of cigar smoker Jerry Reinsdorf, principal owner of the world champion Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox, with whom Falk does a lot of business.

"No, from D.C.," Falk replies.

"Oh, you're in Washington," Steinbrenner says. After a few more pleasantries, Falk gets a pat on the arm from Steinbrenner and is off into the room that provides sanctuary to celebrities and VIPs during halftime of the game between the New York Knicks and Houston Rockets, two teams in which Falk has significant interests.

"We represent three players in this game," Falk says.

The 46-year-old Falk is the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of FAME, or Falk Associates Management Enterprises. But in this room, David Falk, 6-foot-2 out of Syracuse followed by George Washington University Law, is better known as the agent to Knicks star Patrick Ewing, as well as Knicks rookie Walter McCarty. On the Rockets, FAME represents rookie Othella Harrington.

Soon after introducing himself to Steinbrenner, Falk is studying the crowd like a raptor. Not a Toronto Raptor, but one of the voracious deoxyribonucleosaurs in the movie Jurassic Park. This is not a bad thing to be in this room, where comedian Billy Crystal is holding court, Patrick McEnroe has people asking why he is no longer on the tennis court and Falk is getting something to eat because he won't be going to dinner until after the game being played on the court. Game? What game?

Falk is talking to Ken Ross, his friend and co-executive producer of the movie Space Jam, when a representative from the Nickelodeon network introduces herself and earnestly explains to Falk something about a new project that he might want to present to "Michael or Patrick." As in Jordan or Ewing. Falk is gracious. Hey, who knows? He tells the woman that he would be glad to look at the project and she should send it to him in Washington. Ms. Nickelodeon thanks Falk and is gone a matter of seconds before Andy from American Express virtually beams into her spot.

"David," Andy says, "remember me? I came down to Washington to talk to you about Michael?"

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