Tuesday , Nov , 30 , 1999 C.Y. Ellis

Antoine Wright and the Folly of Young Money

Antoine Wright and the Folly of Young MoneyHere’s a little story that slipped through the cracks that adds to the mountain of crap that life has shovelled on Antoine Wright this week.  Just prior to the game in which he was comprehensively swindled by the referees, Wright filed a report with the police claiming that he was robbed of nearly $120,000 in jewelry.

Let’s all take a moment to let that marinate.  That means that Antoine Wright, whom some of you will be hearing about for the first time today, is the owner of shiny objects of a total value of $120,000.  That’s slightly more than the combined value of my first four childhood homes, and roughly triple the average annual salary in the United States.  Among these catastrophically unwise purchases were a 7-carat diamond watch worth $45,000, a diamond necklace valued at $20,000 and three pairs of one-carat diamond earrings worth $19,000.

You may have gathered by now that I’m not a fan of young men dropping their dough on gaudy jewelry.  Still, I understand that since time immemorial overpriced body adornments have been an indicator of status, and that folks who come into money sometimes like to let us know they’ve got it by draping themselves in ice.  What I don’t understand is why you would need not one but three pairs of diamond earrings.  Does Antoine Wright have six ears?  Does he have piercings we don’t know about from which these costly baubles dangle unseen? If not, he has no need for three sets of diamond earrings.

I can explain, in short, why I tend to descend into diatribes when I hear about players splurging six-figure sums on rings and chains.  Here are the two points I’ll repeat until I have a sore jaw and a numb tongue:

1. The average length of an NBA career is 4.82 seasons.

2. According to the NBPA, sixty percent of NBA players fall into financial dire straits within five years of retirement.

The problem is that players spend their NBA cheques as if they’ll be drawing millions for the rest of their lives, forgetting that in all likelihood their time in the league will be done within half a decade.  I don’t expect young millionaires to squirrel all their money away for a rainy day, but a mid-rotation swingman with a crooked jumper should at least be aware that there’ll come a time when he wishes he hadn’t spent $120K on diamonds.