So just how big a player is savvy businessman David Falk and his SFX Sports Group in the world of sports marketing? The following interview was conducted via phone the day after Falk got back from the Bahamas, where he was playing golf with Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Jerry Rice, and John Elway at the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational golf tournament. Any questions? Read on.

American Way: How did you get to be CEO of the largest sports agency in the world?
David Falk:
I was one of those rare individuals that went to college and knew what they wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to be a sports attorney and get into sports representation while I was in law school at George Washington University. I met two pioneers in the industry [Larry Fleisher, who led the NBA Players Association and was a top agent representing Bill Bradley at the time, and Bob Woolf, who represented Larry Bird and Carl Yastrzemski] who suggested I contact sports attorney Donald Dell. After leaving several messages and eventually calling him 17 times in one day, I got an interview with his firm, which, at that time, represented several big tennis names, including Arthur Ashe. I went to work for them at night for free, after I finished my day job clerking at the D.C. law firm of Sidley & Austin. I worked for Dell all summer, hoping for a job when I graduated law school in 1975. Dell finally offered me a job the day I graduated, with a salary of $13,000 a year starting as a lawyer. [Falk's first client was John Lucas, an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, then the No. 1 pick of the NBA draft for the Houston Rockets.]

I stayed there through 1991. In the time I was with Dell, I basically went from an unpaid gofer to president of the company. I left the firm in 1992 to go on my own, but unlike the Jerry Maguire character who took only one client with him - I took all 40 I had. Five years later, I was approached by Bob Sillerman [chairman of SFX Entertainment at the time] about selling my firm to SFX. We weren't looking to sell, but he was very persuasive. We gave him a price we thought he wouldn't accept. He did.