In some non-playoff but still intriguing news, Houston Rockets leading man James Harden and one of the top-10 biggest brands in the NBA, has dropped his agent and his mother is now representing him.
Monja Willis, Harden’s mother, confirmed she is representing Harden in a call with the Houston Business Journal. Harden was previously represented by Landmark Sports Agency’s Diana Day after Harden’s previous agent, Rob Pelinka, became the Los Angeles Lakers’ general manager in March 2017. Pelinka had represented NBA superstars such as Kobe Bryant.
It’s an interesting decision for a player who just signed a $228 million extension last season and also has a sneaker deal and numerous other endorsements, including the now famous State Farm Backstreet Boys commercial he filmed with teammates Chris Paul and Trevor Ariza.
Willis declined to comment beyond that she was representing Harden. It’s unclear when Willis began representing her son.
Harden confirmed to reporters April 28 he didn’t have an agent and was consulting with his mother on business issues.
“I’ve been working with my mom, obviously, since I was a little kid,” Harden said. “I wouldn’t call her my agent, but she’s somebody who helps me, obviously, like a mom would.
“I mean, it’s work. But I would just call her just being my mom, helping me just like any other mom would with life and personal problems or business problems or anything.”
Landmark Sports could not immediately be reached for comment. The agency has about 13 clients and roughly a half billion dollars worth of contracts under management, according to Forbes.
Harden is one of the world’s highest-paid celebrities, bringing in around $46.6 million in 2017, according to Forbes. That makes him the 45th highest-paid celebrity on Earth.
Harden was the cover athlete for EA Sports’ “NBA Live 18,” his second appearance on a video game cover after joining Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis on 2K Sports’ “NBA 2K16.” Harden and fellow Rockets star Chris Paul were ranked No. 5 and No. 6 as the NBA’s most marketable players, according to national survey conducted by Sports Business Daily. Experts agree Harden’s beard makes him one of the most recognizable faces in all of sports.
The Rockets are valued at $2.2 billion, according to Forbes. Houston billionaire Tilman Fertitta closed Oct. 5 on a deal to acquire the Rockets for that amount.