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Name and title: J. Tullos Wells, general counsel for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and managing partner of the San Antonio office of Houston-based Bracewell & Giuliani. Age: 56 World champion: The San Antonio Spurs have won three championship titles in seven years, most recently last season at the expense of the Detroit Pistons. The team operates under the umbrella of Spurs Sports & Entertainment, the trade name for an entity including the Spurs, the San Antonio Silver Stars of the Women’s NBA and the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. Spurs Sports & Entertainment also manages the SBC Center, the venue for each of the teams. The San Antonio Spurs were established in 1967 as the Dallas Chaparrals of the American Basketball Association (ABA), with subsequent incarnations as the Texas Chaparrals and the San Antonio Spurs of the ABA. It morphed into its present-day version in 1976. The Spurs empire, which employs between 150 and 200, is not publicly traded. As such, Wells declined to divulge revenue data. Point guard: “I’m a point guard who helps his clients make sure they have the resources they need,” said Wells who, in addition to resolving matters that any large corporation would face, attends to a variety of basketball-related issues-”soup to nuts about everything in this quasi-public business.” Adding that the team’s success has placed it under extra scrutiny, if a player’s off-court legal problems affect the team, Wells will get involved. “I don’t want to speak unkindly, but I can answer that in two words: Dennis Rodman. But [now] we’ve got a good group of kids and don’t have those kinds of issues.” Referring to the “Malice at the Palace,” a 2004 brawl involving five Indiana Pacers players and unruly fans in Detroit, Wells cautioned that “We have to be thoughtful about our relationship with fans and the public at all times.” Local broadcasting is an important revenue source, so television, radio and sponsorship contract duties are among Wells’ responsibilities. The team’s 25-year licensing agreement with the SBC Center also gets his attention, as well as other licensing matters connected to the team or its products. The GC is immersed in players’ rights issues, some involving foreign basketball leagues, and was in London trying an eligibility case for Spurs’ star Tony Parker when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, occurred. He noted that the newly globalized NBA in general, and his team in particular, have contracts written in everything from Chinese to Castilian Spanish to Lithuanian. Wells utilizes the resources of Bracewell & Giuliani for interpreting the languages and subtleties of the foreign documents and laws. He occasionally “tweaks” players’ and coaches’ contracts, but those are mostly controlled by the league’s collective bargaining agreement, a pact for which he and his colleagues provided advice. In his role as Spurs’ GC, Wells interacts with other teams’ general counsel and NBA Commissioner David Stern. Represents management: Wells defends management in labor and employment law matters, primarily at Bracewell & Giuliani. In this capacity, he has handled cases throughout Texas, and participated in trials in California, Nebraska, Idaho, Tennessee, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Alabama, Colorado, Oklahoma, Arizona and Missouri. “Like most lawyers, I’m pretty tight-lipped about the litigation I have done. That’s for my clients to talk about, not me.” He has successfully defended age discrimination and workers’ compensation claims, as well as cases involving national origin, sex and race discrimination. He also prevailed in Turner v. North American Rubber Inc., 979 F.2d 55, 59 (5th Cir. 1992), which “established a bright line for the amount of evidence necessary to support an Age Discrimination in Employment Act claim.” Wells also serves as outside counsel for many companies, and is a frequent speaker before industry groups and professional associations in his specialty areas. His team and outside counsel: According to Wells, “The Spurs are so well organized and so well managed, there is not much we have to do on an everyday basis. I’m lucky and blessed to have a really good organization to represent. There are only 30 guys on the planet who get to do it.” Three attorneys are on a call list on any given day, and, he added, as many as eight to 10 lawyers might be used in major matters affecting the franchise, such as player acquisitions. He asserted that it works well for him to have Bracewell & Giuliani supporting him in his role as Spurs’ outside counsel, as “I have a lot of resources instantly, every day.” Wells has also “spent a lot of money” hiring outside counsel, particularly for tax-related matters and issues arising from the construction of the team’s arena. He frequently partners with the Dallas firm Winstead Sechrest & Minick and uses the services of Austin, Texas, tax boutique firm Scott, Douglass & McConnico. Route to the top: The Spurs GC describes himself as “a government lawyer in the days of my youth,” who journeyed from being a plaintiffs’ civil rights attorney to a labor/employment defense lawyer, which has been his focus for more than 25 years. In 1995, the Spurs management underwent a reorganization and needed a general counsel. The team approached Wells, a fixture in the San Antonio community. He reports to Spurs’ President and Chief Executive Officer John Diller. Wells joined Bracewell & Giuliani (then known as Bracewell & Patterson) in 1999 when his firm, Wells, Pinckney & McHugh, merged with it. He subsequently was “heavily engaged” in the hiring of former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Wells holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin (1971) and a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law (1974). Personal: Wells was born in Urbana, Ill., and raised in New England. He and his wife, Carri Baker Wells, are the parents of 6-year-old McKensie Lynd. The civic-minded attorney is affiliated with the Spurs Foundation, the United Way of San Antonio, the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Council of San Antonio, among other organizations. He’s also a sailor, “when I have the time.” The Spurs have been “very kind” to Wells, and have included him in their titles by rewarding him with three coveted championship rings. Last book and movie: 1776, by David McCullough, and Finding Nemo. - Roger Adler

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