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William “World Wide Wes” Wesley may not be a household name, but the New York Knicks are depending on him to change their image.

Josh Benjamin

The New York Knicks are undergoing a full makeover, and they’re serious this time.

On Wednesday, the team put out a statement announcing the hire of William Wesley as not only an executive vice president but a “senior basketball advisor.”

Known as “World Wide Wes,” the 55-year-old Wesley is truly an enigma. Prior to the Knicks hiring him, he was best known as a consultant for Creative Artists Agency (CAA), which has represented everyone from LeBron James to Leonardo DiCaprio. Aside from that, the man is practically a mystery.

But that doesn’t bother Leon Rose, the Knicks’ new president of basketball operations and James’ former agent. He knew Wesley during their days at CAA and gave a full-throated endorsement of the man and his work in a statement.

“We are very excited to announce the hiring of William Wesley, someone that I have known for over 40 years and consider to be family,” Rose said. “He is one of the most well-connected and respected people in the basketball community and he will be a tremendous asset and resource to both myself and the New York Knicks.”

But who is William Wesley? How much can a simple consultant do to bring the New York Knicks back into contention? The team hasn’t been a proper contender for almost 20 years. Why put so much trust in Wesley?

The answer is simple, my longing New York hoops nuts. Wesley has one job: get the Knicks’ swagger back.

Who is William Wesley?

William Wesley is a quiet man.

According to a report from Sopan Deb of the New York Times, he rarely gives interviews. Wesley also isn’t one to talk business publicly. The man is a mystery on paper and aside from him meeting Rose while the two were rival high school basketball players, not much is known about his private life.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the legend of World Wide Wes. He isn’t just an outsider with crazy close ties to basketball, but he’s friendly with some of the game’s biggest stars of the past and present. Per Deb, Wesley was once known for his ties to Michael Jordan.

In 2005, meanwhile, a pre-ESPN Brian Windhorst detailed in The Akron Beacon-Journal how Wesley convinced a young James to sign with Rose and leave agent Aaron Goodwin.

And Wesley’s reach isn’t exclusive to the NBA. A 2010 article in the New York Times painted Wesley as the man behind CAA’s initial forays into college athletics. He has worked extensively with coaches, namely Kentucky’s John Calipari, to help sway top recruits to particular programs.

Simply put, the New York Knicks have long needed a William Wesley-type to clean up their image.

Why World Wide Wes?

And the Knicks didn’t just hire Wesley because Rose likes him and thinks he’s a nice guy. World Wide Wes’s web extends far enough that he picked up a key endorsement from former Knicks coach Larry Brown.

“If you look around the league, anybody who was having difficulty with somebody you could probably call Wes and he can probably help you get through it,” Brown said to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily NewsBrown also praised Wesley’s judgment, citing his guidance as the reason he went to coach the Detroit Pistons. Brown won a championship with Detroit in 2004.

Now, consider Brown has no reason to praise the Knicks. He coached them for one forgetful season, was fired, and then sued for the remaining money on his contract. The bridge was burned not with a match, but a flamethrower. And yet, he praised the hire.

Such is the power of William Wesley. Whatever it is he does, he’s confident in it enough to convince people to take his advice. People listen to him, and the Knicks have needed that steady presence in their front office for a long time.

This is what we New Yorkers call swagger. A guy walks into the room and just commands respect. The circumstances don’t matter. He just enters and the energy changes.

The long and short of it is the New York Knicks haven’t been properly respected for far too long. In William Wesley, they have someone who can change that.

Final thoughts

For any professional wrestling fans out there, do yourselves a favor and go listen to Teddy Long’s old theme song. Apart from the catchy backbeat, pay attention to the following lyric:

“Yeah, hey. Get out of my way. I’m coming with thunder and lightning and striking. I’m inviting you all to the storm.”

Call this writer crazy, but this lyric seems fitting for William Wesley. Between his quiet confidence, deep Rolodex, and mysterious aura, he has what it takes to properly shake up the New York Knicks.

And aside from basketball, World Wide Wes just fits New York. This is the city that started the hip hop revolution when Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five put out “The Message” in 1982. A generation later, another Wesley friend in Jay-Z took their story to a new level. Like Wes, New York City has seemingly infinite layers and commands respect.

Except on the court. The scrappy spirit of the Brooklyn Nets aside, New York basketball just isn’t the same when the Knicks struggle. The teams of the 90s, though Rose isn’t here to replicate them, pushed and shoved their way into contention and damn anyone who tried to stop them. Win or lose, Patrick Ewing and Charles Oakley made sure their opponents knew they just went to war on the hardwood.

And even though William Wesley isn’t the Knicks’ commanding officer, you know he’ll be heavily involved in drawing up the battle plan. He will ensure to players, coaches, and executives alike that the Steve Mills regime is over. Top-tier basketball will be the sole focus by any means necessary.

In time, the Knicks will be bursting with the swagger that defined the glory years. And World Wide Wes’s fingerprints will be all over it.

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