Film Offers Suns Players Financial Education
Suns head coach Alvin Gentry has been coaching in the professional and collegiate ranks for over 30 years. In that time, he’s seen the fate of a lot of players.
That’s why during training camp, he sat his team down to watch ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary entitled Broke, which told the story of the litany of professional athletes that have declared bankruptcy after their careers have ended.
Gentry thought that the message was a powerful one for his team to hear.
“I just thought it would be something really good for those guys to see because most people go, ‘That’s not going to happen to me,’” the Suns head coach said. “And I’m sure there were a ton of guys on that list that said that. It’s pretty eye-opening when you see the amount of money some guys made and where they are financially struggling now.”
Typically it’s not in an NBA head coach’s job description to help players with their finances. In fact, Gentry said because of the sensitive nature surrounding personal finances, most coaches shy away from the topic.
But Gentry felt that his players could take something out of the film.
“We don’t really get involved in that phase of their life because it’s so personal and I think the NBA does a great job of giving them advice,” he said. “They have these awareness programs that do a great job of coming in and teaching these guys.
“But I think the more that we talk about it then the less it may happen. And if it does that, then it’s very beneficial.”
Although Gentry wanted to impart that message to the entire team, he felt that the younger players would benefit the most from the documentary.
“It’s a great message and a sensitive message because a lot of guys don’t want to hear that, but it’s a message that most guys in our position need,” Suns forward Michael Beasley said. “Nobody tells a guy that a $5 million contract isn’t a $5 million contract. You owe almost $2.5 million in taxes.”
Although the players receive financial advice after they are drafted during the NBA Rookie Transition Program and through other programs in the NBA, Beasley believes that the documentary had a much greater effect on him.
“You can sit (Suns managing partner) Robert Sarver and every NBA owner down and have them tell us, ‘Don’t do this and don’t do that’ or you’ll go broke,” Beasley explained. “And yeah, we hear it, some of us get it, but it’s nothing like bringing the real thing in.
“The “30 for 30” shows real-life guys that went broke. Just to see it first-hand is an eye-opener.”
Beasley self-admittedly made some financial mistakes early in his career, which has caused him to turn to former star NBA player and mentor Norm Nixon for advice, as well as to educate himself on his personal finances. He believes that players should spend at least an hour a week going through their bills and accounts, making sure they’re aware of what they’re earning and what they’re spending.
“You see how much money and how often certain things go out,” Beasley said. “It really hurts you because you’re emotionally attached to it. It’s your money.”
The Suns forward believes that players can’t be solely dependent on anyone else but themselves when it comes to their income.
“You have two jobs,” Beasley said. “One is to take care of things on the basketball court and the other is to take care of your money. I would encourage guys to be more hands-on with their money.”
Suns power forward Markieff Morris was also moved by the film, as well as by his coach’s desire to teach him about more than just basketball. However, for Morris, the film reiterated what he’s already put into practice.
“I would rather spend the money on my family or spend money building than spending it on gold and cars,” the Suns second-year man said. “I still have the same car I came in with and just one house. I’m the same person I was.”
Morris said that his grandfather was instrumental in teaching him to save for a rainy day. He also said that the NBA Rookie Transition Program made an impression on him, as well as financially savvy veteran players.
“Before we saw the “30 for 30” we already had guys telling us how this life is,” Morris said, “and how fast it is and how easy it is to spend money when you got it.”
For the Suns power forward, it’s also about appreciating a place very few people reach monetarily in life.
“It’s sad to see guys let money go down the drain like that,” Morris said. “It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. You basically have hit the lottery when you get drafted and we have to take care of our money and spend it wisely.”
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