(NNPA) - The latest cases of two Black multi-millionaire NBA stars who now find themselves in dire financial straits follow a long line of misguided, uninformed or ill-informed, unprepared, and self-absorbed brothers (and some sisters) who squandered their financial resources. It is sad to see Kenny Anderson and Antoine Walker suffering from the consequences of their ineptness, ignorance, and cavalier attitudes when it comes to their money and their fame.
Of course they are not the first and, unfortunately, they will not be the last; but it hurts no less to see them go through their trials. It also hurts to see that same level of behavior displayed by others among us who have plenty, some of whom will end up in the same place as Walker and Anderson.
In my latest book, Black Empowerment with an Attitude – You Got a Problem with That?, there is a note on Antoine Walker's penchant for expensive items, and how he was robbed of one of his prized possessions: A $55,000 watch! He was also robbed at his home in Chicago. Could it have been partially due to his flamboyant lifestyle? Bentleys, Mercedes, three multi-million dollar homes, $10 million "invested" in properties mismanaged by one of his boys, and the obligatory entourage of hangers-on and shysters all probably contributed to Walker's demise.
It's difficult to sympathize with a guy who made $110 million playing ball and additional money from endorsements. However, to see him now, playing for the minimum and trying to pay his $21,000 per month restitution to the court, is quite sad.
Kenny Anderson's case is similar in that he frivolously spent his money on material possessions, failed to listen to his financial advisors, and ended up losing much of what he had. Anderson is said to have earned $63 million in NBA, but he also apparently needed 10 cars in his garage, and all the other accoutrements of the high life.
Like MC Hammer, Anderson and Walker helped a lot of their "friends" by "lending" enormous sums of money to them, which was never repaid. The good thing that is often overlooked is the fact that these guys also paid out large sums of money to take care of their children.
You can read about these cases for yourself; here's my point: About 15 years ago, I wrote an article titled, "Plantation Education."
I pointed out some critical issues related to collegiate athletics and the way our young men are treated as they help earn millions for their respective colleges. What we see, not only in the two cases mentioned herein but in many other instances among Black athletes, is a lack of Black consciousness, lack of knowledge and understanding of Black history and culture, little or no knowledge of personal finance, and their failure to develop and nurture relationships with a classmate or two who could guide them legally and financially before they sign those multi-million dollar contracts.
The other major point of that article was the comparison between the enormous sums of money paid to the coaches, the highest of which now is around $4 million a year, to the restrictions against the athletes getting paid for their skills. Coaches cut lucrative deals with athletic gear firms and get so many perks on college campuses that you would think they are gods. If someone buys the student a dinner or pays for a bus ticket for him to go home, the student is in jeopardy of losing his scholarship and maybe even losing his opportunity to move on to the professional ranks.
Many Black athletes, while they are in college and even beyond, are merely ATM's for folks who care very little about them and their families, that is, as long as the cash keeps rolling in. The NCAA, while it earns billions from television and sponsorships, could make changes to help our athletes before they graduate, but it is too busy counting its own money to care about them.
The ramifications of our young millionaire athletes not having a consciousness is the proliferation of non-black agents, accountants, and financial advisers that prey upon them, and the athletes' penchant to hire them rather than their own brothers and sisters. An awareness and knowledge of Black history and culture would arm our young brothers against self-destructive behavior. Relationships with college peers who have expertise in finance, business, law, and accounting, would lessen the instances of rip-offs by shady characters.
Kenny Anderson and Antoine Walker comprise just the tip of the iceberg. Their cases are not unique; we have seen this situation in boxing, the film industry, the music industry, and virtually across the board when it comes to many of our brothers and sisters.
This scenario certainly needs to change, so I guess this is a "shout-out" to all of you young super-rich athletes and entertainers. If you are presently in school preparing for and hoping for a call from the NBA or the NFL, please understand first that there are only a few hundred of those privileged positions available. Suppose you don't get that call? Prepare yourself for that as well.
In addition, if you do get that call, make sure you have your act together. Please don't get caught up in the material things. Understand that you only have so many opportunities in life, and make sure that you use some of your resources to empower Black professionals and Black owned businesses. That's what other groups do all the time, and by doing so they have created and are maintaining their own collective infrastructure and safety net.