*According to the NBA Players Association, 60% of former NBA players go broke after the checks stop rolling in.
This fact has been peppered throughout the media as of late with the trials and tribulations of these one-time millionaires: Kenny Anderson, Antoine Walker, Latrell Sprewell, Derrick Coleman and Scottie Pippen.
Each of the aforementioned players were dominant at one point, commanded double-teams and All-Star accolades, and were given long term contracts worth tens of millions of dollars. And, sadly, each of them is a black man who came from humble beginnings and has returned to those “roots” all too unceremoniously.
This subject matter may be something to grin and smile about for some who are reading this article. But prior to the modern predominance of the phenomenon of the “Hateration Nation” in which we currently live … black athletes were looked up to, idolized and seen as something to aspire to. We looked to take some of their attributes and embed them in ourselves. We wanted to be tenacious; never quite play (or work) injured; show leadership skills and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Today athletes are looked up to, to a point, but what we’re really waiting for is the calamitous fall. We’re looking for him/her to go broke so we can feel better about our miserable little lives. So now you no longer have to speak negatively about the millionaire black man – with the white wife, who used to date your sister or who you used to be better than in high school or who you beat up in high school – making it out the hood. Why is that you ask? Because he’ll be back any day now and you can feel better about your measly little ant-like existence. Thus is the way of the modern “Hateration Nation.”
But for me it’s a little bit sad, not depressing, but sad. I always believed the more black millionaires there were, then the better off black people were in general. From a pseudo Black Nationalist perspective that may be true, but in reality it matters very little to the common man. Prior to president Obama’s election black athletes were what many in the community admired and aspired to be.
Admittedly, I am also vulnerable to the effects of the Hateration Nation, but this line of thinking is in part due to me succumbing to stereo-typical ideas of the black athlete and the visceral poison aimed at black athletes from the black community in many instances. Growing up in a subtle racist society, in a community that secretly hates itself, means one has to constantly un-brainwash oneself. So, I decided to do some research and found some not too surprising facts that say not only are black athletes going broke, but athletes of all races and creeds. But when black athletes go broke it is highly publicized. Here’s an old Sports Illustrated article published in 2009 that listed the myriad of ways athletes lose money.
It’s one thing to invest in a criminal scheme, but athletes are losing money on legal ventures like hot-cakes at a lumberjack convention. In May 2007 former quarterbacks Drew Bledsoe and Rick Mirer and five other NFL retirees invested at least $100,000 apiece in a now-defunct start-up called Pay By Touch-which touted “biometric authentication” technology that would help replace credit cards with fingerprints-even as the company was wracked by lawsuits and internal dissent.
There’s also the phenomenon in which people portray themselves in a false light to gain an athlete’s trust. Luigi DiFonzo — a former felon who claimed he was an Italian count defrauded players such as Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson before committing suicide in August 2000; William (Tank) Black, a disgraced agent who built a pyramid scheme that took a total of about $15 million from at least a dozen players, including Patriots running back Fred Taylor; Kirk Wright, a hedge fund manager, was convicted on 47 counts of fraud and money laundering in a scheme involving more than $150 million. His client list included at least eight NFL players. Wright committed suicide in prison.
An article in the New York Times ran down some reasons why there is such a high divorce rate among athletes in general and NFL players in particular. Athletes are seen as walking dollar signs and are seen as marks more often than not.
The article mentions the reasons why NFL and other pro sports marriages fail: “rampant infidelity, women who target athletes, trophy wives, lifestyles not conducive to marriage and players being surrounded by entourages, which can discourage intimacy.”
In 1994, when NBA center Dikembe Mutombo was engaged to Michelle Roberts, a med student, Roberts refused to sign a premarital contract the day before the wedding. Five hundred guests-including a large party from Mutombo’s native Democratic Republic of Congo-had begun flying in to Washington. “[Roberts] never signed,” David Falk (his agent) says, “and Mutombo never married the girl.” Calling off the nuptials reportedly cost him $250,000. But it was better to pay a little then than a lot later on.
Everybody thinks they’re smarter than they actually are. Except for Magic Johnson, he knew he was smarter than everyone thought he was. The success of his businesses is a testament to that. But pro-athletes who run their own business are rarely successful.
Saints all-time leading rusher Deuce McAllister, who filed for bankruptcy protection for the Jackson, Miss., car dealership he owns and Panthers receiver Muhsin Muhammad, who put his Charlotte mansion on eBay a month after news broke that his entertainment company was being sued by Wachovia Bank for overdue credit-card payments.
Former MLB All-Star Lenny Dykstra had been sleeping in his car after his magazine, Players Club, failed and he reportedly owes creditors between $10 to 50 million.
The aforementioned financial pains pro athletes encounter are racially neutral, but brothers’ seem to have the market corner on senseless stupidity: Michael Vick, dog-fighting, New York Giant Plaxico Burress, accidentally shooting himself at a New York City nightclub last November — right after signing a five-year, $35 million contract. NFL first-round pick Adam “Pacman” Jones has twice been suspended by the NFL for off-field incidents. Jones had signed a four-year contract with the Cowboys worth $13.3 million and is currently looking for work. And oh yeah, he’s not black, but we’ve gotta mention Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps who was caught smoking a bong; he lost his Kellogg’s endorsement deal, as well as financial support from USA swimming.
Imagine walking in the dark minding your own business when, suddenly, a huge spotlight swung your way illuminating all of your financial and personal affairs? Would you be able to handle that? Of course no one in the “Hateration Nation” will show any love or understand to a recently broke athlete, especially not a black athlete. Most people believe it’s the fast cars, big mansions and mink coats that are breaking these men. No, it’s the hangers on, the leeches, and their own egos that’s causing their lucrative fortunes to disappear and, much to the chagrin of the haters, the list of those going broke is divided evenly along racial lines.