Nothing But Net

You probably can't match their income, but you can benefit from the financial advice professional athletes bank on.

Houston, we have a problem. The 82-game season is only nine games old and already there’s trouble in paradise. The Rockets, with their cast of superstars–including the always dapper Hakeem Olajuwon and the effervescent Charles Barkley–are are on a four-game losing skid with no end in sight. The press is reeling and the fans are at their mercy. But don’t tell that to the team’s third superstar, Clyde Drexler; he is as cool as the other side of the pillow. “I’ve been at this for 15 years,” says Drexler in his usual monotone. “I’ve been in worse situations; come May or June, we’ll be right there in the thick of things. You have to stay positive.”

Drexler has never been one to press the panic button. He doesn’t fit the profile of your average everyday jock who’s recognized almost everywhere he goes. “I wanted to be an investment hanker when I was in school,” says Drexler, 35, who was a finance major at the University of Houston. “I interned at a bank for three years, and the experience taught me a lot about the different ways money can work for you,” he says. “It’s been very helpful throughout my life; so, in many ways, I was prepared.”

Prepared for life as a professional athlete who would make a great deal of money. What may seem like a problem to Houston fans is a blessing to the man known in basketball circles as “The Glide,” for his silky smooth moves to the hoop. The Big Three–Olajuwon, 35, Barkley (35 next month) and Drexler–are getting old. Retirement, not championships, is the operative word, and Drexler is approaching the latter with his usual calm demeanor.

“First thing I’m gonna do after retire is nothing,” says Drexler smiling. “And by nothing, I mean having your whatever own schedule and pursuing whatever pursuits that may come my way–but on my own time.”

After 15 years in the league, Drexler can afford to set such lofty retirement plans for himself. Before he ever signed his first contract with the Portland Trail Blazers, he completely understood the concept of wealth preservation. “I’m quite happy with being a basketball player,” he says as he falls back in his favorite easy chair. “It’s gotten me to a point where I can truly look at my options for the future and access what’s best for me and my family.”

The financial advisor in him knows how important it is that people in his line of work develop a strong foundation–or a base as he calls it–before they venture out into riskier areas. “My breakdown as a conservative person who’s always thinking about the future is to take care of your principal,” says Drexler who, with help from different brokerage houses, makes his own stock picks and investment moves. “Once you get your base, you can afford to take some more risks: you can go into equities, mutual funds, even venture capital, if you wish, but you gotta get your base.”

Drexler is a rarity. He

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