The other day, when I was reading about Antoine Walker officially filing for bankruptcy, something struck me, hard. Apparently, 60% of all NBA players go broke five years after retirement.
Take a step back and let that sink in. Six out of ten professional basketball players–with an average annual salary of 5.3 mil–go broke within five years of retirement. In Toine’s case, he blew some 110 mil (not including Adidas endorsement. Remember? Dude was EMPLOYEE NUMBER EIGHT!) not even two years after receiving his last NBA paycheck. If there is a statistic kept for “rich people going broke in short time”, the NBA has to be among the category leaders.
So why the NBA? Could it be…because…the players are black?
I know that last line may have offended some people. Alright, stop. Collaborate and listen. Let’s step aside first. The race issue has always been the elephant in the room for the NBA. David Stern tries his best–and he does a damn good job–to market the league worldwide and giving the game mainstream appeal, regardless of race, class, or sex. But at its core, the NBA is a black men’s league. The best players are black. Hip hop is the music of choice for most players. Hell, just today during Lakers/Celtics game 2, one camera man followed a team huddle too closely and inadvertently picked up one of the players saying “myyyyyyy nigger”, live on NATIONAL TELEVISION IN PRIME TIME. Even non-black players develop a hip hop swagger and Black twang after a few years in the league. Check out Yao Ming, dude went from speaking no English 6 years ago to speaking with this weird combo of Chinese mainland accent and hip hop drawl.
So now back to the original topic…it’s been widely documented that players go broke because they spend too lavishly when the checks are coming in; they’re ill-prepared for when the day when the checks stop. You gotta wonder how much do things like rolling with an eight-deep entourage everywhere you go, or owning multiple Bentleys, factor into this going broke thing, right? No one can deny that the entourage phenomenon is more a young black American thing than say, an young Asian American thing.
In our overly-PC world these days, very few will point to the race factor as a possible reason for the alarming high rate in which NBA players go broke, even though the thought has to cross people’s minds when they read about how many guys–that’s grown-ass-men–some NBA player support financially.
This isn’t meant to be a bashing of the young black American lifestyle (if you think I’m a racist because of this entry–you’re an idiot), this is a look at the truth, and it’s necessary to help get rid of the racial stigma.
Charles Barkley’s been preaching about the importance of educating black youths for the past decade, probably for this exact reason. He knows that the league is held to higher standards and extra scrutiny than any other league, or company, simply because it’s a black league. (Perfect example: NBA fights are met with horrific media and public reactions. Words like “brawl”, “melee”, and “thugs” are thrown around. When fights happen in baseball and hockey–generally much more vicious fights–no one reacts with the same look-of-horror…because the skin’s a lot lighter and less tatted up)
Once these young black athletes are taught to manage their finances better, or to be more responsible with their lifestyle, the percentage of these cats going bankrupt will drop.
And that’s how you fight the racial stigma.
BTW, Toine will always hold a special spot in the hearts of internet basketball fans because of his shimmys.