Navigating Money

Years ago, we went to see the NBA All-Star games in Salt Lake City. I ended up sitting next to an NBA player who had played for the Bullets in 1979 and had gone on to be a recruiter for NBA teams. Super nice guy and I had zero ideas who he was so much that I can’t recall his name.

The Kobe Bryant supposed rape trial was still fresh in everyone’s mind. He told me how difficult it is to be a young athlete recruited into the NBA before graduating from college. Alums, like himself, do try to advise these kids, but they are young kids who now have money and freedom. It can get crazy, especially when there are women at every turn who are hanging around. Unfortunate but true.

The Supreme Court ruled that NCAA athletes can financially benefit from their names. It is about time. The NCAA could have done the right thing a long time ago but chose to be greedy. So greedy that the case made its way to the Supreme Court. Colleges have been reaping the benefits forcing many to go pro early, but now that might change. These young athletes will be seen in ads, social media campaigns building their own brands, being involved in businesses, and becoming a business. When you are a business at 18 years old, that is not easy if you have zero guidance on managing money but, more importantly, being authentic around all the decisions you make.

I fear the people that might surround these young kids don’t do the right thing. It goes back to the conversation I had with the retired NBA player. He made interesting choices in his life because of the career he chose for himself. Impressive. He saw too many players get into trouble or fall into a bad hole.

I hope the NCAA rises to this occasion with mentorship and guidance for these young professional athletes. It is a tough business where the financial dynamics change because their personal brands now make serious cash. Michael Jordan owns a team. That says it all.

It will be interesting to watch the changes in the world of all college sports after this ruling.