You may have heard that while on a recent podcast, Steph Curry said that the US moon landing was fake. Curry later backtracked and claimed he was joking, but the damage was already done as the clickbait farm churned his comments into butter.
What kills me is the controversy ignored the fact that this podcast was an interesting and candid conversation between Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala, and hosts (and players for the Atlanta Hawks) Kent Bazemore and Vince Carter, and Annie Finberg (part of the Hawks Digital team). Listening to this felt like I was overhearing a bunch of pros talking behind closed doors.
The most poignant part of the podcast came when Andre Iguodala described his career, and how he was able to gracefully accept the role as the sixth man on the Warriors. Iguodala attributed this to the fact that he and his coach, Steve Kerr, were both coached in college by Lute Olson at the University of Arizona. Because of Olson, Iguodala and Kerr understood basketball the same way.
Iguodala then had the following exchange with Carter:
So you in your fourth year, let’s say, or your “younger” you: Could you have handled that [being sixth man] then?
No, not if I was younger. Because when you’re younger, it’s easier for others to seep into your world. That’s what I’ve learned more than anything. These young guys, I’m like, “Who the hell is giving you advice?” And all those young guys, they have that one person, where we sit back we’re like, “Man, if you don’t get the hell away from that person…”
It’s everywhere, and it needs to be heard.
Yeah, and it’s hard to tell a guy bluntly, like, “Stay away from that guy, that’s a bad person” because it could kind of kill their world or mess up that relationship that messes up another relationship. It’s like a domino effect. It’s very fragile. So for me it’s like your agent telling you, “We gotta get paid,” and you got your friends telling you, “Look, you’re better than this guy,” and you got this guy over here, it’s just so many moving parts and people just everywhere. And it’s funny because the older you get the smaller the circle get.
It's Everywhere, and It Needs To Be Heard
The more I’ve seen how things get done for athletes in professional sports, the more I empathize for these young kids trying to wade into a world awash in billions of dollars. That “one person” seeping into a younger athlete’s life can be a member of his family, an agent, a business manager, a friend, a financial advisor, or really anyone with immediate access to the athlete and selfish intentions.
Yet, as Iguodala says, it’s hard to be straight up with these younger athletes because the vets don’t want to make things worse in a youngster’s fragile ecosystem. Imagine a veteran tells a rookie that his best friend-turned-business manager is a bad influence and going to take advantage of him, it’s natural to assume the rookie would side with the friend while creating friction between teammates.
So what can be done?
BrightLights = Accountability + Empowerment
If you’re going to tell an athlete someone is bad news, you better have some evidence to back it up. Both Carter and Iguodala, with a combined 34
years of experience in the NBA, have seen it all. They know all the different types of bad people in the industry, but their experience isn’t the hard evidence needed to prove to a younger
athlete that something is amiss.
When BrightLights continuously monitors an athlete’s investment and bank accounts, accountability is instilled amongst everyone involved in the athlete’s finances. No matter who that “one person” may be, or even if that person exists, the athlete can be sure that BrightLights is watching over every financial move being made.
BrightLights monitoring creates transparency that there are checks and balances overseeing those managing the athlete’s money. While BrightLights has seen individuals, including family members, who are not acting in the athlete’s best interests, BrightLights’ monitoring does not point fingers at anyone because it doesn’t need to. By our ability to monitor all inflows and outflows of money and investments, BrightLights is monitoring everything no matter which individual is responsible for that aspect of the athlete’s finances.
BrightLights provides a short report to athlete of any risks and lets the numbers speak for themselves. Because BrightLights is unbiased, there’s no ulterior motive that the athlete might question. There’s just facts.
So instead of messing with a player’s relationship with his inner circle, what could Andre Iguodala say to a young buck who comes in the locker room and notices that bad apple continuously lurking by his side? What could Vince Carter say?
“Hey rook, my best piece of advice, the advice I wish I heard at your age, is to really watch over your money and investments. If you don’t know enough to do it, hire a firm that monitors your financial team. Makes everyone accountable from top to bottom, and you can focus on your craft. No joke, it can save you millions. Not only that, it’ll make sure you got the right people around you, and it’ll show everyone you’re the CEO in power.”
My hope, as BrightLights becomes more entrenched and renowned in the sports industry, is that players like Andre Iguodala and Vince Carter hear about BrightLights and become champions of the change that it will make. Their platforms and support would bring awareness that’s there’s a solution to the endemic of fraud and abuse of athletes.
Sadly, there are so many professions within the sports industry that are incentivized to keep things the way they are. I had a discussion with a very powerful basketball agent, and I said to him, “This industry is pretty screwed up.”
He shook his head and replied, “It’s not screwed up. It’s operating exactly the way those in power want it to operate.”
That blew my mind. And he’s right. There’s too much money available for those in power - and clearly I’m not talking about the athletes - to want to change.
So we gotta do it.