Sunday, November 8, 2009

Antoine Walker blew $110 million....what more can be said?

During harsh economic times, it is only natural that people would look at money as an important stabilizer of their lives.

Let's face it; times are tough. The unemployment rate has been at or above 10 percent in Tennessee for months, and adversity does a good job of forcing people to appreciate things they don't have, which in this case is money.

However, as we all know, money does not solve all our problems. In studying the lives of rich people, money often brings hardship if it is not managed well. For every problem money solves, it often creates two more.

I thought of this recently when reading about the plight of former professional basketball player Antoine Walker. Walker played professionally for 12 years, primarily for the Boston Celtics. He earned approximately $110 million during his career. Despite this, creditors are pursuing him regarding $4 million in debt, and he is facing felony check fraud charges in Las Vegas, according to Yahoo! Sports.

So, how does somebody spend that much money? Here are some of the details provided by Yahoo!

"(Walker) liked to move in an outsized entourage; his mother estimates that, during his playing days, he was supporting 70 friends and family members in one way or another. And speaking of his mother, he built her a mansion in the Chicago suburbs, complete with an indoor pool, 10 bathrooms, and a full-sized basketball court.

"Living in the Bishops Forest condominium complex in Waltham, Mass., during the Celtics season, Walker turned the pavement surrounding his home into a virtual luxury car lot – two Bentleys, two Mercedes, a Range Rover, a Cadillac Escalade, and a bright red Hummer. Often, the vehicles (had) custom paint jobs, rims, and sound systems at considerable added expense. He also collected top-line watches – Rolexes and diamond-encrusted Cartiers."

The Yahoo! story also includes examples of Walker's generosity to others, and anybody who spends that kind of money to build a house for his mother has to be a good-hearted man. Still, we can all be excused if his lack of financial discipline makes us shake our heads.

For people having problems making ends meet, his story will likely cause steam to shoot out their ears. Still, it is important to maintain compassion and understanding for Walker. The United States is a very materialistic society, and many people fall into the trap of believing extravagant items can bring lasting happiness.

Simply put, materialism is a big, fat lie. And, as we all know, the bigger the lie, the more enticing it is to people.

In Walker's case, he kept spending and spending and spending until there was nothing left to spend. Though his is an extreme case, the recession has provided us many examples of people who financially overextended themselves.

Part of the reason for the mortgage meltdown that we've seen the last couple of years is because people bit off more than they could chew when it came to purchasing a house. It is too easy to simply blame the banking industry as the sole reason for this mess.

Additionally, easy access to money through credit cards has caused many to dig holes too deep to quickly escape. If a person thinks otherwise, all he has to do is observe all the television commercials from companies promising to help people pay off their debt for only a fraction of what they owe.

The bottom line is the Walker case may seem uncommon, but it really is not. Think twice about casting stones at him.

We may be more like him than we realize.


Joltin' Django said...

I kind of understand, from a socialogical perspective, why some pro athletes and celebrities who "make it" have cadres of professional hangers-on. Inner-city kid rises above a tumultuous ubringing and wants to share his wealth with close friends and family who don't have very much. But once the money faucet is turned on, more friends and more family show up wanting "help," and then ... you wind up $4 million in the hole.

That said, why on earth would anyone want a house with 10 bathrooms? I hate cleaning the one-and-a-half that I have ... I can't imagine scrubbing 10 toilets. Not only that, but just think of how many magazines you'd need to buy to stock 10 bathrooms!

Roslyn Rosecrans said...

The "shimmy" deserves better than that! He didn't spend all his money on luxurious things in the first place. It seems his generosity has backfired on him. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in his case, and one of them is to manage your expenses not only when you have nothing left, but more importantly, when money is still flowing through your hands. Do you think he's still doing the "shimmy" these days?