It's mind-blowing how many stories about former superstar athletes involve bankruptcy. An estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are penniless within five years after hanging up their sneakers. But this is the tale of a one-time NBA star who has built his riches.
Jamal Mashburn earned more than $75 million before his career was cut short by a serious knee injury. But he has put together a powerful post-basketball business dossier which includes 37 Papa John's pizza restaurants, 30 Outback Steakhouses, two car dealerships and a real estate company in the state of Kentucky.
Mashburn and former Kentucky coach Rick Pitino (who is now at Louisville) are partners in Ol Memorial Stable, which owns Kentucky Derby prospect Buffalo Man, along with Outback Steakhouse co-founder and Kentucky grad Chris T. Sullivan.
"For me, being in business is always something I wanted to do. When I was a kid riding on trains in New York, I saw older people carrying a briefcase. I was always curious what was in them. That's probably my original inspiration," Mashburn told China Daily.
"I had talent as a basketball player, so I used it as a vehicle to open doors and meet people. I am not a guy who wants to be a one-night wonder. I want to continue my legacy as a businessman. It gives people a chance to see me as more than just a former pro athlete."
Mashburn, who worked as a broadcaster for ESPN after his playing career, thinks the lessons he learned in the NBA have helped him in the world of big business.
"They are very similar," he said. "I trained hard to prepare for every game as a basketball player; as a businessman I do a lot of research. I was versatile on the court, and I now have my hands in fast food, car and real estate businesses."
Owning restaurants is nice, but Mashburn has big dreams of becoming an NBA owner. He's spoken several times with commissioner David Stern about being part of a group to buy the New Orleans Hornets from the league.
"I can be an asset to a team as an owner, not only for my ability to scout talent, but also understand the business side of things. The first all-star of the Hornets comes back to buy the team, it's going to be a great story," Mashburn said.
Highlights of Jamal Mashburn's 50-point game against the Grizzlies in 2003.
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