One thing that I decided to try out for 2012 is to use the “Life Story” category to recount some mildly amusing vignettes from my life. Here’s one story I found myself telling a few weeks ago.
When I was in college, I worked 20-25 hours a week for a small, high end jewelry store in downtown Chicago. Our clients included bankers, traders and a few celebrities like R. Kelly (before he went to jail!) and Chris Gardner (Pursuit of Happyness).
My primary responsibility at the store was silver engraving (I have a few stories about that as well!) as well as watch band and battery replacement. But every once in awhile, I was asked to do something singularly nerve-wracking, (like drive a $100,000 Mercedes around the block for 45 minutes).
One day, a newly drafted NBA player came into the store and presented the owner with a rather large piece of jewelry, which was hanging on a white gold chain around his neck. He said he had paid a certain amount for it and wanted to know if we could appraise it on the spot.
The piece actually turned out to be a custom sculpture of the player’s name and jersey number, along with a basketball going through a hoop. It probably was about 6 inches wide and 10 inches long.
And it was covered with diamonds.
Much to my surprise, I was handed the bejeweled piece and asked to count the number of diamonds.
Trying not to let my panic show, I quickly reproduced a sketch of the piece and then began to count the number of diamonds on each part – the hoop, the basketball and each letter of his name. It was a painstaking process and took about 15 minutes – all while the NBA rookie watched and made small talk with my boss.
After what seemed like an eternity, I came to a conclusion: there were 1,170 diamonds embedded in the piece.
My employer did some calculations and then gave the player this appraisal:
“For the piece, you’re probably looking at around $30,000. The gold chain is another $10,000, so together this piece is worth about $40,000.”
“Yep, that’s about what I paid,” the player said. He thanked my employer (not me the lowly diamond counter), hung the $40,000 emblem around his neck, and walked out of the store.
This anecdote might explain why 60% of NBA players are broke 5 years after they retire.
Question: What would you do if you got a fat NBA contract?