Paul is proud of his willingness to fight for his clients, but he takes pains to combat the impression that he is constantly doing battle with teams. “You’re not kicking in a door,” he told me of his job. “I think the perception of it is wrong.” He paused for a moment. “What I always focussed on was how to educate the athlete. It’s one thing to be a Black man in America, right? It’s a totally different thing to be a Black athlete.”

For Black athletes, Paul explained, the sudden wealth of an N.B.A. contract comes with a “Black tax”: “Their number of dependents is higher, their education in most cases is lower, their financial literacy is lower, their family infrastructure is lesser.” He began to speak in the voice of a young N.B.A recruit: “So now I become the breadwinner, which makes me the decision-maker. But I don’t really know how to make these decisions or why I am making these decisions. In…

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