My Proposal to the NBA

Posted on March 22, 2012


At 5’2, I don’t mean THAT kind of proposal, even though it might even out my progeny!

Recently, a Harvard Economics graduate has been chosen to play in the NBA—a rare occurrence not only because Harvard is not known for its basketball, but because only 20% of NBA players hold college degrees and only 2 ever from such a prestigious school.  What’s worse is that 60% of NBA stars go bankrupt within 5 years of retiring from the sport despite having made hundreds of millions of dollars in salary and endorsements.  So, to have financial brains meld with top-tier athleticism in the form of Jeremy Lin has been an unexpected hybrid of role-model all of sudden.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, I’m talking about the particular flashy breakout star of the New York Knicks, who re-ignited the game of basketball, especially during his debut 7-game winning streak in February.

The NBA, after having solved its money-losing, fan-disappointing, 149-day lockout is due for a PR makeover anyway.  This organization, which holds the attention of so many excitable young people and employs physically prodigious, but financially un-savvy young men as their role models, needs to see how this can be a teachable moment at a time period in American and world history where learning about finance and economics matters so much.

With all their resources, surely the NBA can hire some teachers and set up a world-class program to make sure these new recruits being given the money equivalent of a Death Star will not be preyed upon by personal handlers, gamble it away or make random babies.  Imagine NBA stars, who study in the best program for crash Financial Literacy and go on speaking engagements for young people across the US and the Internet, sharing their smart decisions and inspiring them to use their money responsibly and sustainably.  Instead of watching them crash and burn, we can see them invest and thrive.  There are only about 400 NBA players—like a small school of them, but they have a combined salary of $1.9 billion dollars and average 26 years old.  They have our attention anyway and are in the perfect circumstances to show young people that Financial Literacy matters in life.

Right now, major league sports is often just a machine of product endorsements and consumerism—shilling $200 shoes to inner-city youth, while the stars themselves are being gutted for their young and healthy flesh during their marketable years and left to rot in their 30s.

Don’t we know we need to see better by now?  Jeremy Lin is not just a once-in-60-years’ anomaly, he represents a great opportunity for education, especially Financial Education, to piggyback on this ride.