This season is perhaps one of the most important of Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving’s career. For those who may be tardy to the party Irving and the Nets were unable to agree on the terms of a new contract this past summer. After playing just 29 games last season due to his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Nets were reluctant to extend their star point guard to a guaranteed, long-term deal. Thus he is on an expiring contract and will become a free agent in 2023.
This season is a prove-it year for Irving. Not only does he have a lot to prove to the Nets to convince them he is worth the risk of signing a long-term deal, but he also has a lot to prove to the rest of the NBA, in case he decides to move on from the franchise.
As Irving prepares for a contract year and perhaps extensive negotiations next summer, here are five, fast facts you need to know about Shetellia Riley-Irving, the Nets star’s new agent.
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Riley Irving is currently the only Black woman representing an active NBA player
The summer before he arrived in Brooklyn , Irving fired his former agent Jeff Wechsler. As he prepared to enter NBA free agency for the first time in his career in 2019, Irving changed his representation to Roc Nation Sports, founded by Hip Hop Icon Jay-Z, to negotiate his contract with the Nets.
Now, as Irving prepares to enter free agency again in 2023, he again has changed his representation. He fired his agent at Roc Nation in July 2021 and hired Riley-Irving as his new agent in March 2022.
Per Shams Charania of “The Athletic”, Riley-Irving is the only Black woman representing an active NBA player.
Riley Irving is currently the Vice President of Ad Sales at Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Riley-Irving may be the only black woman representing a current NBA player in Kyrie, but she does not come short of experience. As the Vice President of Ad Sales at Black Entertainment Television, a subsidiary of the multimedia powerhouse Viacom, she has plenty of skin in the game when it comes to the entertainment industry.
“BET really gave me a compass for understanding the art of negotiation and really being prideful, we also learned to be a voice for those who don’t have a voice.” Riley-Irving said to Bryna Jean-Marie of “Sports Illustrated” in August.
“As the years passed, I began to better understand what it meant when colleagues would say, We are the voice for the people that cannot speak on their behalf.”
Shetellia Riley-Irving is Kyrie’s stepmother
The relationship between an athlete and his or her agent is sacred, with the most important aspect being trust. Athletes need to ensure that their agents have their best interest at heart, and are not just interested in their gain.
Riley-Irving’s name being the same as her first client is not just a coincidence. She is Kyrie’s stepmother and personally invested in seeing him succeed.
“We’ve built trust and consistency,” Riley-Irving said to “Sports Illustrated”.
“I don’t want Kyrie to come back two years from now saying ‘I signed this really bad deal and it didn’t make sense,’ because he didn’t understand it, or it was just about a money grab. That’s something that we’re really being intentional about, especially in the things that we look to align ourselves with.”
Riley-Irving Never Considered Being an Agent
While her transition from the entertainment industry to the sports industry may have seemed been smooth, being an agent was never something she considered as a career.
“It was really the furthest thing from my mind,” she said of the switch to “Sports Illustrated”.
“It’s not about me shifting him or him shifting me. It’s really about us walking in this partnership together and learning from each other. Working in tandem allows the optimal groundwork for aligning Kyrie with the best business opportunities.”
Riley-Irving Helped Launch New York Radio Station Power 105.1
Riley-Irving’s success story began way before she became Vice President of Ad Sales at BET. According to Jean-Marie, she was a part of the team that helped launch New York City radio giant Power 105.1.
“She secured a position as a salesperson at 1010 WINS on 100% commission, and from there she became part of the team that launched Power 105.1, a New York City contemporary radio station,” Jean-Marie writes.
“Eventually Stu Fenston, her former boss and mentor at the station, advised her to spread her wings.”
Kyrie will likely be the most coveted free agent in 2023. It will be interesting to see how he and his new representation approach the proceedings.