Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

LeBron James

Darius Bazley was one of the top college basketball recruits in the class of 2018, but this week he became even better known as The Million-Dollar Intern, thanks to a story in the New York Times.

In March, Bazley had announced that rather than going to college at Syracuse, he would instead play one year in the NBA G League. He changed his mind again as Times reporter Marc Stein wrote about how Bazley will spend his year after high school as an intern at New Balance while preparing for the NBA. His three-month internship guarantees him $1 million and is part of a larger endorsement deal with a maximum of $14 million, based on incentives.

Bazley's deal was negotiated by Klutch Sports Group, an agency that Rich Paul founded in 2012. Paul, of course, is LeBron James' agent. It's a connection that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim questioned after the Times wrote about Bazley's New Balance arrangement.

"LeBron did a nice job helping his client. It is LeBron's client, right?" Boeheim said, as tweeted by Jeff Goodman.

James responded to Boeheim's remarks by quote-tweeting Goodman and saying, "OH THEY BIG MAD."

James then went on to tweet an Ella Fitzgerald quote and tag Klutch Sports with the hashtag #changethegame.

Given this Twitter exchange, it is important to clarify James' relationship with Klutch Sports. Boeheim is "technically" wrong to assert that Bazley is LeBron's client. Bazley is Paul's client. As a current NBA player, James cannot "technically" have an ownership stake in Klutch Sports. Like Bazley, LeBron is "technically" a client of Paul's agency and is not allowed to be anything more. In 2017, the NBA actually investigated James and Klutch Sports to confirm that he did not have "any ownership" in the company. As Brian Windhorst noted, it would be "laughable" for James to try to get an agency cut.
But as a practical matter, any agency that has LeBron on board benefits from that association when it comes to attracting new clients, and ultimately Rich Paul beat Jim Boeheim in recruiting Bazley. Boeheim had Syracuse's facilities, ACC exposure and one year of education to pitch. Maybe Carmelo Anthony would visit campus during the season and could communicate with Bazley within the grounds of NCAA rules.
Paul had LeBron James. That was about all he needed. If there was any doubt for Bazley that he made the right decision, the King of the NBA just publicly supported him this week. And he probably would have done the same had Bazley ended up playing in the G League or overseas.
Last week, the NBA G League announced a plan to allow players to make a fixed $125,000 salary in an in-between season, similar to Bazley's idea.

Rich Paul (and LeBron James) were one year ahead of the game. James has openly said Rich Paul and Klutch Sports are "changing the game and redefining what it means to 'represent' a kid and his family."
Boeheim would love to "represent" a kid. But he doesn't have that freedom. He can't operate with players as clients.

The news of Bazley's deal with New Balance is also notable in its timing. It comes on the same week that a federal corruption case on college basketball recruiting and the influence of sneaker companies resulted in guilty verdicts.

On Wednesday, at a federal court in Manhattan, a jury found former Adidas employees James Gatto and Merl Code Jr., along with agent Christian Dawkins, guilty on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The key evidence against all three was their passing of $100,000 over four payments to the father of Louisville recruit Brian Bowen II in 2017.

"NCAA rules were broken," said one of Gatto's attorneys, Michael Schachter, according to the New York Times. "Jim and Adidas helped out financially a few families whose sons are among the most talented athletes in America. That happened.
"The NCAA's rules are not the laws of this country. The NCAA is not the U.S. Congress."

But with more viable options for top players such as the G League's new plan or Bazley's pioneering setup with New Balance, NCAA rules put coaches like Boeheim at a disadvantage. Their recruiting competition has expanded beyond other colleges. Klutch Sports offered Bazley more than just money. It offered him connections and branding. Colleges can offer none of those -- if they're following NCAA rules.

Technically, LeBron James isn't offering any of those, either. But in reality, just by being a Klutch Sports client, he is part of this "changing the game" narrative.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.