The Norman Transcript

Opinion

October 4, 2012

Smart risk-takers know when to walk away

(Continued)

NORMAN —

According to USA Today, Oscar Robertson has a plethora of tax and financial problems related to a chemical company he owns. Robertson is not only a basketball legend, he has been a devoted community advocate who has lived his life in an exemplary fashion. But, at age 73, it’s going to be tough for the Big O to make big money again.

People often ask me, “Why don’t some of these professional athletes put their money in the bank or a lifetime annuity?”

A good question. I suspect the same confidence and courage that allow someone to become a professional athlete work against them in business. They never know when to go to the sidelines.

It’s not that hard to be financially secure. Spend less than you make, save the rest and don’t do anything stupid. Assume you are going to live to an extremely old age, and make sure you have money that lasts as long as you do.

I knew of a woman who was always trying to meet a guy driving a new Mercedes. She should have been looking for someone who drives a 10-year-old Toyota. The Toyota driver is more likely to have real wealth in the long run.

The focus on long-term savings is the primary difference between my friend who has real wealth and big stars who have spent real wealth.

My friend accumulated his wealth quietly and protects his money carefully. His money is a byproduct of his focus on putting out a quality product. He also knows his business. He knows as much about his industry as Robertson knows about basketball. He goes to work every day because he enjoys operating at his peak potential — just like Robertson did when he played basketball.

Robertson got out of basketball near the top of his game. After the Cincinnati Royals made the silly mistake of trading him in 1970, he led the Milwaukee Bucks to an NBA championship before he stepped down in 1974. I hope he works out his financial problems and leaves the business world on top as well. He is a classy guy who needs to ask himself an important question: At what point do you stop taking financial risks?

Don McNay is a columnist for the Richmond (Ky.) Register. Contact him at don@mcnay.com.

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