It represents a body of work but the work speaks for itself; these are just the material things garnered during that time. And there are real sports fans out there, real collectors. So why not make it available to them?
EBONY.COM: Those real collectors helped you set a record last year for the biggest online sports auction. You sold your championship rings, MVP trophies...
Yeah, we sold 144 items. But there’s still 156 pieces left.
EBONY.COM: Is there anything from your pro career you would never part with?
My Hall of Fame ring. That’s like the last piece of the puzzle for me in basketball, being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I go back as a current member. Last August, I escorted in Artis Gilmore. So that ring is something that I won’t part with. To me, it’s a family heirloom.
EBONY.COM: You’ve said in interviews that the auction, which raised $3.5 million, had nothing to do with reports that you are struggling financially.
Nothing at all. As a matter of fact, I have a continuing deal with Converse and three other licensing deals. I also signed a seven-figure deal with HarperCollins last year to do my autobiography.
In terms of my investments, Electronic Arts is an asset that’s been in my portfolio since 1981. I have stock in that company. That’s the permanent piece. I’m probably never going to sell that. That will be for my estate. Obviously, the Coca-Cola business, the cable TV business, and the other investments that have been a part of my portfolio since I came out of college are the rival and the envy of many people who maybe have better training or luck. So, um, I’m cool!
EBONY.COM: Okay, generally speaking then why do so many NBA players have money problems?
When it comes to managing this money, or your life, there’s no set formula that works for everybody. Certainly, with athletes it’s very tricky because they’re not in a 9-to-5 situation. So the irregularity with which their compensation comes dictates decisions. And there are a lot of players who make decisions they regret. I’ve made very few in my lifetime. I’m very happy with where I am today, and the bad things that happened in 2010 were more than remedied by the good that has happened in 2011.
EBONY.COM: What’s your game plan?
My plan is to keep doing what I’m doing. Listen, to be around for 61 years and not have hiccups in your life is sort of like wearing armor with no chinks in it — you’ve never been to battle. You might as well be a mannequin in the closet. I’m not a mannequin in the closet. I got armor on and I’m out in the world and there are chinks in the armor. I look at them as being badges of courage and valor. To me, they’re positives. I got my eye on that carrot out there. The best is yet to come.
Craigh Barboza, a New York-based freelancer and the Editor of MyDVDinsider.com, is a diehard hoops head.