Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Monday, August 25, 1997

Vandeweghe’s business
is on the money

SHOW them the money? For Kiki Vandeweghe, it's more like "Save them the money."

Vandeweghe was one of the first NBA players to make $1 million annually. He's now trying to help young NBA players manage their finances so that "they'll never have to work again when they retire," said the NBA all-star.

"It's a sad story when you see a guy make all that money and at the end of the day, he doesn't have a dime," said Vandeweghe, one of the coaches at last week's Pete Newell Big Man Camp at the University of Hawaii. "These guys have trained all their lives to be great athletes. Basically, they don't have training to deal with a lot of money."

To that end, Vandeweghe, who retired after the 1992-93 season, has formed Family Home Office, a financial planning business. The goal is to set up individual financial teams with the players as coaches.

"We basically act as mentors for them," said Vandeweghe, a 6-8 forward who played 13 seasons for four different teams. "We try to teach them to become financially independent. We're trying to get to the point where the athletes understand and have enough information to make good decisions.

"We tell them to set up a financial team of experts, the best people they can find. It's really no different from playing basketball where you want to learn from the best. They make up a team with an accountant, an agent, a lawyer and financial planner. It's their money and they need to be making the decisions. A lot of times a player will have just one person they depend on for everything and that's a lot of power for one person to have, to be in control of all that money."

At a meeting with some of the NBA's newest millionaires, Vandeweghe drove straight to the basket with his advice.

"You're going to be making a lot of money the next few years," he told the Big Man campers. "That's a fact. What you want is for them to leave with the same kind of money."

Vandeweghe named his business "Family Home Office" because "what the players are really doing is setting up an office, their own personal office," he said. "These guys are big businesses."

After 13 years in the NBA, Vandeweghe didn't need to find a job. But he enjoys being able to help young players, be it at the Big Man Camp, through Family Home Office or during the summer league held at his alma mater, UCLA.

He grew up about a mile from the campus in Pacific Palisades and now lives about a half-mile away in Bel-Air with his wife and four dogs. He has an interesting perspective on the sky-rocketing salaries.

"The minimum salary is over $200,000 and that's a ton of money for anyone," Vandeweghe said. "You do that for a couple of years, don't waste it, and you can live the rest of your life comfortably. These guys have to realize that it doesn't last forever and, if they're smart about it, they don't have to work another day in their lives."

The first-round draft pick of the Dallas Mavericks in 1980 does have a problem with the sky-rocketing ticket prices.

"I would like to see the game be brought back to the fans," said Vandeweghe. "Ticket prices are so high. A normal family of four can't afford to go, which is sad. I'd like to see the owners and players get together and say, 'We'll both take a cut and lower the prices by $10.' That's what I'd like to see."

CAMP NOTES: Pete Newell said he plans to bring his camp to Hawaii indefinitely. He'll return to the islands for the Maui Invitational and Rainbow Classic basketball tournament as a scout for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Former University of Hawaii forward Fabio Ribeiro was a camp spectator. The Brazilian native, who has been playing in Europe, had a tryout with the Vancouver Grizzlies but was hampered by a sore knee. He will be undergoing surgery for ligament damage here later this month.

Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.

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