It was a decade ago when Rob Ades, a labor lawyer with a lot of friends in basketball, got a call from his friend Digger Phelps. The Notre Dame coach was a fan of Washington Post writer Tony Kornheiser’s, thought he was very funny, and wondered if Ades could arrange for the three to meet.
Ades, who had been a gym rat and coach before going into law, arranged a golf foursome at Woodmont Country Club with Kornheiser, Phelps, University of Maryland coach Gary Williams, and himself.
Ades recalls that on a crucial hole, it was Kornheiser and Phelps versus Ades and Williams. Kornheiser began having a nervous breakdown over a two-foot putt. “Sweat was dripping off him,” Ades recalls. “I couldn’t bear to see his agony, so I told him the putt was good.”
Gary Williams walked over and told Ades, “You ever give him a putt like that again, and I’ll shoot you.”
But it did seal a business relationship between Kornheiser and Ades that exists to this day, with Ades handling most of the legal work for Kornheiser’s local radio deals, including his latest signing to go on Washington Post Radio.
Ades says it was not his doing that led Kornheiser to choose Post Radio over the more popular WTEM, where Kornheiser had been before.
“I told him that it was going to be a lot more difficult there and that he wouldn’t get the same numbers as at WTEM, where people are used to finding him,” says Ades.
But Tony’s lawyer says that Donald Graham slipped into Tony’s office and personally made the request. Tony felt he couldn’t say no to the longtime head of the Post Company.
Ades says he played only a small part in Kornheiser’s negotiations for television deals with ESPN. For that Kornheiser got representation from a big-time Los Angeles entertainment firm.
Ades, who mostly represents police, teachers, grocery workers, and firefighters in union issues, says he is used to getting dumped when deals get large.
“Gary Williams called me once to let me know he was going to hire Cal Ripken’s attorney, Ron Shapiro, for some endorsement deals, because of the big money Shapiro had landed for the Hall of Fame shortstop,” Ades recalls.
“I said, ‘Gary, a bassett hound could get big bucks for Cal Ripken.’ ”