If this sounds familiar, that’s because it is. It’s straight out of the 1998 NBA strike. That was the year when union head Patrick Ewing thought it would be useful to point out to the New York Times that it’s not easy being a professional athlete. “They make a lot of money,” he helpfully explained, “but they also spend a lot of money.”
Ewing wasn’t alone. Point guard Kenny Anderson was so convinced that the public needed to be educated about the NBA players’ plight that he let the New York Times have a detailed look at his finances. Some highlights from the resulting piece:
“I was thinking about selling one of my cars,” he said recently, laughing. “I don’t need all of them. You know, just get rid of the Mercedes.”
After all, he can always fall back on the Porsche Carrera, the customized Range Rover or the Lexus sedan. When you have eight vehicles registered in your name or your wife’s, there are choices.
Insurance and maintenance on the cars and sport utility vehicles have been costing Anderson about $75,000 a year. Throw in a mortgage in New York, rent in Los Angeles, four daughters, one marketing company, an agent’s cut and legal fees, and a rough portfolio of the veteran N.B.A. player begins to emerge. . . .
In his midtown Manhattan office, Bercu punches up Anderson’s finances on a computer screen. In a blink, you learn that playing basketball for a living does not only guarantee you celebrity and wealth; there are mounds of checks to sign, too.
Anderson, his wife, Tami Akbar, and their two daughters, Lyric, 4, and Kenni, 2, live in a five-bedroom home in Beverly Hills. The pastel peach house has large pillars, a four-car garage and a gazebo in the backyard. Two stories below are a pool and tennis and basketball courts. The monthly rent is $12,500.
Anderson pays $7,200 in monthly child support for Danielle, 8, and Kristinise, 5, who were born to different women. He has been involved in each child’s life as much as he can be during the season.
“They can burn a hole in your pocket real quick,” he said. “I’m not saying it in a funny way, but you’ve got your schooling, day care, nanny. It just goes on and on.”
Anderson also pays $3,000 a month on mortgage, property taxes and maintenance for his mother’s home on Long Island. Of the $5.8 million he is supposed to receive this year, the agent David Falk, who negotiated the contract, is entitled to 4 percent -- $232,000. Bercu said Anderson’s legal and accounting fees run about $175,000 annually.
And then there is Kenny the Kid Enterprises, Anderson’s fledgling marketing company, based in Century City, Calif., which at this point does not bring in as much money as it spends. Run by his longtime friend Rodney Henry, the company exists essentially to handle all of Anderson’s day-to-day operations and appearances. A clothing line is in its infant stages. The company also books musical talent for outlets like BET (Black Entertainment Television) and helps further the acting career of Anderson’s wife, who has done commercials was once a regular on MTV’s “Real World.”
With teams unable to provide daily public-relations assistance to every player, and with agents like Falk too burdened with other prominent clients to concentrate on promotion, many players are hiring or developing their own marketing firms. The cost for five employees, office space, supplies and telephone for Kenny the Kid runs $250,000 a year.
“Kenny doesn’t live a life of Riley; he doesn’t have unlimited money,” Bercu said. “Without many shelters and at such a high tax rate, he’s literally a partner with the Government. Of the $5.8 million, I’d say he probably sees about $3 million.” . . .