Armed with a list of mostly overseas basketball players, Siegel plugged hard, trying to recruit the best collegiate players, and finally struck a chord with Tyrus Thomas in the 2006 NBA draft.
Thomas, of the Chicago Bulls, was Siegel's "wow" factor. Thomas' selection was the culmination of that NBA dream that Siegel, 36, has long sought to find.
While many agents tend to cluster in New York, to be close to the league and union offices, others find it to their advantage to set up shop in the Philadelphia area. Fans may focus on the athletes signed and jettisoned by the area's sports teams (witness the recent trade of the Sixers' Allen Iverson), but agents have enormous influence on the process.
Philadelphia has always been a decent market for agents.
The stereotype of a Philadelphia sports agent is not the maniacal "show me the money" figure Tom Cruise played in the 1996 movie Jerry Maguire.
"If there is a vision of a Philadelphia agent, it may be like the town views itself, blue-collar, hard-working, not like the guys in South Florida who are flashy and it is all about them," said Mike Friedman, 31, a Philadelphia lawyer who has had a few minor-league clients in basketball and football. He played football at Franklin and Marshall and, while going to law school at Villanova, interned under sports agents to learn the business. "That's how I view myself. You work hard for the guys you have, no matter who they are, and maybe they will hit it big or will say good things about you to someone who might."
Arthur Rosenberg, in fact, saw himself as far from the flash and dash as any agent could be. He was reveling in the Phillies' World Series win in 1980 when he found himself in conversation with the Phils' catcher, Bob Boone. Boone's best friend on the team, Mike Schmidt, had played Philmont Country Club and decided it would be a good place for a charity golf tournament he wanted to put on for the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic.
Rosenberg was running the golf committee at the club, so he and Schmidt and Boone got to schmoozing about the tournament and this and that, a pleasure for a big Philadelphia sports fan like Rosenberg, who did investment counseling for Morgan Stanley in Montgomery County.
"Boone and I started talking about how players, who made a lot of money, always seemed to end up broke when their careers were over. So we just talked about various investments," said Rosenberg of Boone, who had gone to Stanford University. "A few months later, he calls me up and asks to meet. I figured he just wanted to invest some money, but, no. He said, 'I want you to be my agent.'
"A couple of months later, Schmidt, who was very close to Boone, asks me to come down to Fort Lauderdale," Rosenberg said. "So, soon, I was the agent for the biggest player in baseball. It was a lot simpler then."
It is certainly more complex these days to be a professional sports agent, in Philadelphia or anywhere. For one thing, there are more people than ever who want to do it. The National Football League has more than 1,000 registered agents - and there are only about 1,300 players under contract.
Certification, say agents, is not that difficult. Potential agents have to show a modicum of skill in negotiations and an awareness of how collective-bargaining agreements work. They have to pass ethical standards laid out by the various unions.
The two bigger problems, though, are the competition and the baby-sitting aspect of agentry.
"I think every attorney in Philadelphia, maybe every one in the United States, wants to be a player agent," said Rosenberg, who is not a lawyer. "The big part is the money. Back then, I may have gotten 5 percent of a player's $300,000 contract, which is $15,000. Good, but it doesn't pay for a whole year. Now, a contract may be $3 million on the average. That's $150,000, and now you are talking significant money."
Now, said Rosenberg, you have to travel and be with a player a lot more. Players seem to be needier, with more demands and lots of hangers-on looking for a piece of their newfound riches. Rosenberg also said that on the road, players are more vulnerable to being "poached" by other agents: "Travel is a young guy's game."
Darin Morgan is one of those young guys. The 34-year-old lawyer went to the University of Pennsylvania and then George Washington Law School. He tried to make it on his own as an agent, but last year went to work for Leon Rose, the Pennsauken-based lawyer and agent for such stars as Allen Iverson. Rose wanted to expand his business into football, and Morgan does most of the football recruiting trips.
"I can't deny it is fun to be around the sport and the games and the players," Morgan said. "But you really get a kick out of making sure everything goes right for the player. It is more personal than just being an attorney. You really do get into virtually every part of their lives."