You've worked your tail off on the court and in training since high school. You played well enough to be considered a draft prospect. You dealt with the draft workouts. You made it through the nervousness of where you'd go. You were finally drafted, a dream come true. You're an NBA player, and along with that comes the perks, like millions and millions of dollars to change a life of just getting by you've known your whole life.
Then you're locked out, and you don't get a cent.
While the league's biggest stars work to protect max contracts, and league veterans work to protect their long-term earning stability, the rookies are left hanging out without the stockpiles the other players have. Rookies have few friends in the league, few places to turn, no endorsement deals for the most part, and no paycheck. They're not unemployed, but they're not being paid for what they're employed to do, nor are they able to do what they're employed to do.
So they take loans.
From the Oklahoman comes the tale of Reggie Jackson, a rookie drafted by Oklahoma City out of Boston College, and how he's now among the world's elite in professional basketball players.... and already in debt thanks to a loan.
While most veteran players have had their paychecks suspended, they at least have, or should have, some kind of coin in reserve. Jackson has yet to receive his first pro check at all. Instead of signing his rookie contract last month, Jackson was forced to take out a loan. He says it's a small amount that only keeps him afloat.Most players are going to rely on loans from their agents, which is only going to make their representatives more bloodthirsty to end the lockout. If you're an agent, you may be floating cash to a rookie to keep him afloat during the lockout, only to find later that he busts out, ruining the long-term earning potential for you as his rep. You're essentially taking a bath on a player. Kind of weird to think about a bust actually costing an agent money, but maybe it'll be a humbling experience.
“I'm trying to pay back as little as I can and just get through the times right now,” Jackson said.
“I've grown up not being super wealthy. I went to college being broke and found a way to manage through that. So I'm just getting by. Basketball's never been about money and never will be. I'm living comfortably enough to where I'm satisfied. But I'm also not out there buying a big house and a big car. I'm not trying to do that. I'm OK with settling for less fancy things.”
OK, probably not.
The lockout is an ongoing affair and it affects more than just the guys who already own four cars, it affects kids who have waited years for this moment only to find that there's nothing to celebrate. Instead they're just trying to get by, but at least they're still able to do that. That's more than a lot of the workforce in this country can do right now.
Interesting side effect that rookies are seeing the real effects of the lockout immediately while many players are paid through November. You wonder if that will affect them and what the rookies of 1998-1999 think about what they're going through.