The NCAA is having its annual convention in Grapevine, Texas, and the highlight of yesterday's program was NCAA President Mark Emmert sitting down with Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq's always ripe for a few quotes (he thinks a "three-and-done" system is ideal for college basketball players), but the good stuff came in a conversation about the monetary difficulties faced after turning pro.
Mr. O'Neal recalled spending his first $1-million paycheck in about 30 minutes, mostly on fancy cars for himself and his parents. "I made a C in Accounting," he said, "so I thought I knew what I was doing."
But even big NBA money doesn't automatically set you for life. Consider the list of stars who have gone broke within years of retiring, Antoine Walker, Derrick Coleman, Allen Iverson, and Scottie-Pippen-but-only-if-you-want-to-get-sued. The whipcrack transition from suddenly earning-and-spending millions of dollars to just spending them can be jarring. Lots of players try to invest their earnings, but some fall prey to incompetent or malicious hangers-on. Shaq, when he decided to become a magnate, stuck with tried and true franchises.