Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Opinion: Nice guy McLemore must beware frauds who come with fame

Kansas guard Ben McLemore smiles next to head coach Bill Self after saying that he will miss Self during a news conference in which McLemore declared his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Kansas guard Ben McLemore smiles next to head coach Bill Self after saying that he will miss Self during a news conference in which McLemore declared his intention to enter the 2013 NBA Draft. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo


Kansas basketball coach Bill Self’s recent talks with mega-talent Ben McLemore can help him more than anything the coach ever taught him about the game they love. Self alluded during Tuesday’s news conference to his message for the red-shirt freshman from St. Louis.

“Ben’s the most talented kid I’ve ever worked with and he may be the nicest kid I’ve ever worked with and I don’t say that strictly as a positive,” Self said.

The pool into which McLemore is about to plunge is rife with jewels. And jewel thieves.

“He’s hungry, he’s so many things, but one thing he can’t be is everything to everybody,” Self said.

He can’t be everybody’s piggy bank.

“He needs to be true to himself and his family and that’s it,” Self said.

McLemore must learn to say no to “friends” and ask himself: Would a true friend put me in a position to say no when he knows it doesn’t come easily to me?

Once it became obvious that McLemore’s blend of outrageous explosiveness, smooth movements and ever-so-soft shooting touch made him a multi-millionaire in waiting, you can bet he met cousins he never knew he had. If friends from long ago haven’t wormed their way back into his life, that doesn’t mean they have stopped trying. If someone pushes for him to select a particular agent, he or she very likely is getting paid to do so.

Quoting song lyrics generally is best left to high school graduation speakers, but a rare exception is appropriate. Folk singer Joni Mitchell, a poet with a pretty voice and a soul to match, wrote at the age of 24 “Both Sides Now,” a song first recorded by Judy Collins. (The best version is Mitchell’s accompanied by a muted trumpet and an orchestra on the revision of the album “Clouds” in 2000.)

“Old friends, they’re acting strange,” sings sweet Joni from Saskatoon (Neil Young’s nickname for her). “They shake their heads and they tell me that I’ve changed. Well, something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.”

Lose those who would like to become your posse, Ben, and gain comfort in knowing the coaches and academic counselors you thanked by name always will be there for you to help you to stand on your own, not to form a circle around you to stay forever within reach of your pockets.


William Blake 1 year ago

Ben is a mystical magician. What else could he be? To take a simple ball and turn it into millions before our eyes!

Rock Chalk, Mr. BMaculate! Find a good hiding place for all that money. Just don't forget where you hid it.


midwest_muser 1 year ago

I wonder how JayZ getting into the biz will play out. The man knows how to make money and the bruthas might be more inclined to follow his lead...


ferdthemooncat 1 year ago

Keegan's just sharing the lessons he's learned from his posse down at the IHOP.


Greg Lux 1 year ago

Congrats Ben ... I pray you stay healthy and reach your full potential.Many say money is the root of all evil and it can bring the worst friends, Family included. So help your family as you want to but beware of the hawk in the chicken house. Some of ones worst friends have your same last name. God Bless and good going in your journey to come.

Rock Chalk


John Randall 1 year ago

I'm grateful I have enough for my very modest appetites. I am even more grateful for the attitudes I grew up with – whatever I have, I have because I didn't spend it.


Jackster 1 year ago

I think the biggest financial issue for BMac to adjust to (after covering his family's basic food and housing needs, which it seems he intends to do and is also the driving factor behind him leaving now) will be the "keeping up with the Jones' " syndrome in the NBA. And the Jones' in his soon to be new world make huge bucks!!! For my budget, that means having a nicer lawnmower than my jerk neighbor Joe next door....for BMac, that could mean a bigger house(s), flashier car(s), expensive vacations and jewelry.....and the list goes on and on......and the cash could be gone all too soon. I truly wish him the best and I will be one of his biggest fans as he takes this next huge step in his career. If he fails, maybe Self can hire him on his staff :)


Ralster Jayhawk 1 year ago

The whole premise of this article is that "Ben is nice, therefore Ben could be gullible". I offer a view that gives a bit more credit to Ben: Here is a kid from a rough, tough neighborhood, so clearly motivated to help his family financially--precisely so they can get out of such a setting...Could it be that he is well-aware of scheisters, crooks, and smooth-talking wanna-be-his-friend types, as he may have known such schmoozers/moochers all his life? Maybe he saw people trying their schemes or trying to push/sell whatever, that he is quite aware of those types of approaches. He may be very skeptical and protective, possibly...I have heard Brandon Rush is fairly restrained in his spending ways. Lets give Ben some credit, perhaps.


mikehawk 1 year ago

The one and done has to go. Could Ben benefit from one or two more years? Could Xavier? Selby? Of course. At this stage of development, particularly emotional development, one or two years makes all of the difference in the world. But...we complain about the selfish family and friends who want a piece. Guess what? Look in the mirrow Mikehawk and fellow KU fan bloggers. How many of us want Ben to stay for our own selfish reasons? My hand is up! They have got to figure this thing out, and it will take the school presidents, I'm afraid. So they tell me, there are good, reputable agents. I would almost trust them more than family. You just have to find out who they are and get to them asap. I would assume the League has a list of ones on their "recommended" list, and another list of "avoid" or "questionable" or "no information." I agree, Ben does seem a bit naive with a big heart who wants to help his family. Have him sit down in a room with his immediate family and watch the ESPN 30 for 30 called "Broke" at least 3 times. Good luck, Ben. We will miss your game. But more than that, we will miss your humility, your respect for elders, and easy style.


spenc1324 1 year ago

I think Paul pierce would be an excellent person to talk to him he's been in the league for a very long time he's signed multiple big money contracts and has never been in the media for money or entourage problems (minus the stabbing incident) and the dudes from Compton so you know he had people pullin at his pockets too I would ask him how he was successful keeping those people away


Jeffrey Nelson 1 year ago

I saw so many comments about people giving him advice on how to handle his money on the announcement post. This is just ridiculous.

It's his business what he does with his money. This is a sleazy and exploitative article with no other purpose than generating comments.

Guess it worked.


Jeff Kilgore 1 year ago

Steve Martin was right when he observed that people often criticize what they don't know about. The NBA bankrupt rate is staggering. I think that Keegan's writing is more of a lament than it is advice. Those who say it's his money are stating the obvious. Those of you who say he needs financial advice are stating the obvious times 10.

A friend once told me this, "A sudden advance of wealth doesn't change the person. It magnifies who the person is." No one here can predict what will come of Ben, but it is all too common to see lottery winners without a dime to their names. Note, that this fact escapes demographic tendencies with the exception of those who have been poor. Their failure rate is much higher.


wrwlumpy 1 year ago

As I think about Ben and the defensive perfection of Releford and Withey, I'm reminded of another Joni song that Jayhawks sing every year...

"Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got til its gone."


johnkelso 1 year ago

I've read many of these comments and I think people forget we've got one of the best financial advisers as an alumni, David Booth.

Be nice if Ben could spend some time with Mr.Booth before draft day.


notjustbread 1 year ago

Hope he has a career like Ray Allen's but that is a tall order.


KU_alum_2001 1 year ago

Keegan, not sure if you read all these posts or not but if so, I'd be interested in you doing an article on Raef Lafrentz and why he never returns to Lawrence. He's arguably one of the five best college players to ever put the KU jersey on yet he's never to be found at reunion games or Legends of Phog games. I've never understood this. I know he's very private and is just enjoying being a farmer in Iowa but it just seems odd to never see him back in Allen Fieldhouse. Is it Wilt Chamberlain Syndrom (too much pain from not winning a title) or what?

Anyway, that's completely separate from this article but thought if you saw it, you might be able to address it at some point. Would just be curious to know the reason.


ahpersecoachingexperience 1 year ago

Sooooooooo don't listen to past friends and family members but do listen to small town journalist? Personally, it's his money and he can do whatever he wants with it.


always_correct 1 year ago

This article is inappropriate and bordering on racist. Save your advice for your personal conversations with others, Keegan.


Joe Baker 1 year ago

This is an area where past players in the league or Europe need to really spend time with recruits like Ben. I think Simeon would be excellent for this part as the team chaplain, especially since he has been in the league. Others could come back or offer their experience since entering/ed the NBA, ie. Pierce, Chalmers, Rush, Pollard, Twins, and especially Collison. I think Pierce, Langford, Collison, Pollard, and Simeon would be your best vets to handle this issue. They are older, mature, and been around the league to watch many players "wash" out financially. I think of Pierce who watched Antoine Walker go completely bankrupt. These kids get entourages and throw money away unnecessarily. Perhaps Self could encourage KU and Bernadette to institute a class for athletes that explore and teach these kids issues concerning their collegiate careers and their professional careers. Maybe they do and we just don't hear about it. I think it could fulfill a business class requirement. Jewels and jewel thieves are appropriate terms indeed. Ben is very affable too, good kid. But this could encourage kids to manage their wealth wisely and prepare for the pitfalls of the "thieves."


741hawk 1 year ago

I would hope that "personal finance" would be a part of the coursework for all athletes and that they get some professional counseling (approved by the coaches) on how to handle their money. How well would any of us have handled a $15+ million dollar windfall at age 20? Now, add the environment into which Ben is going to be thrust. There is reason to be concerned.


dylans 1 year ago

Here's wishing you the best, Ben. Surround yourself with the family and friends that have always been there for you and you will do great. You will always be a Jayhawk and have the support of the Jayhawk Nation.


FearlessJayhawk 1 year ago

Surely there is someone in the Jayhawk network who is honest and can help advise Ben in making good decisions. He needs a good financial adviser first. There is a crook behind every door and Ben needs to understand that, including agents. Maybe Mario Chalmers or maybe someone Bill Self could suggest would be a smart thing. I would hate to see this young man be taken advantage of. He already has enough stress in his life with relatives in jail.


jaybate 1 year ago

Both Ends Now

(apologies to the great Joni Mitchell)

Rows and rows of alumni squares And pie eyed journos putting on airs And preying cougars everywhere I've looked at ball that way

But now it's only dunk and run And shoot the trey and guard someone So many things I was saved from Cause round ball came my way I've looked at ball from both ends now

From tip to end, and still somehow It's ball's amusements I recall I really don't know ball at all

Plays and ways new stuff unreels The windmill flying dunk you feel As ev'ry crunch time shot comes real I've looked at ball that way

But now it nears the end of the game You leave 'em laughing all the same And since you care, don't let them know Don't give yourself away

I've looked at ball from both ends now From guard and break and still somehow It's ball's amusements I recall I really don't know ball at all

Years and years of grabbing bounds To say "I love it" right out loud Dreams and schemes and cheering crowds I've looked at ball that way

But now old friends are acting strange They shake their heads, they say Its changed That something's lost, but something's gained In playing it new each day

I've looked at ball from both ends now From tip to end and still somehow It's ball's amusements I recall I really don't know ball at all I've looked at ball from both ends now From tip to end, and still somehow It's ball's amusements I recall I really don't know ball at


KemDooKU 1 year ago

Hey Ben I am your uncle three times removed - you play really good ...... Now can I have some money!!!


bville_hawk 1 year ago

Good column, better advice. I hope Ben reads it and heeds it.


RockChalk26 1 year ago

Although this is sound advice, BMac needs to have a sit down with Herm Edwards. Herm will tell him like it is.


REHawk 1 year ago

Ben, as you move onward and upward, I feel assured that your game will come, and that you will eventually arrive as a professional star. Tom Keegan and Coach Self have voiced my biggest concern for you, the money thing. You are a nice humble young man, already graced with a bevy of friends. I hope you are able to treasure your earnings, find sound investment advice, choose a dependable agent from the getgo. It is a given that the hounds of want and need will be barking at your heels. I hope for you the very best of all possible good things. You are engaged not yet even midway into a very intriguing life story. Thanks for sharing these two years and a future lifetime with Jayhawk Basketball.


tical523 1 year ago

Charles Barkley did not say it so eloquently or PC but same point.


Keith Hummel 1 year ago

Good advice, and I hope Ben follows it. The biggest concern I have with kids like Ben jumping to the NBA is that they aren't mature enough to handle the pressure or wise enough to handle the money. The fact Coach Self alluded to it in the press conference yesterday makes me even more concerned. I wish the NCAA would spend a little time and effort preparing these kids, but it's all about money. Let's hope Ben manages his money wisely, and continues to consult people like Coach Self that he can trust.


tis4tim 1 year ago

... and if you play "Maybe I'm Amazed" backwards, you'll find a recipe for a ripping lentil soup.


TXChalker 1 year ago

Ask Vince Young what an uncle can do for you! Ben, hopefully, will pick someone who will look out for his best interests and those of his family he so wants to provide for. Good advice here and hopefully what he has already heard from all the coaches. Good Luck Ben.


Ron Franklin 1 year ago

I believe that we all should look out for one another. Nothing wrong with this article at all.


mojayhawk 1 year ago

Keeg, this is good fatherly advice. I hope and pray that every young man in Ben's shoes receives the same counsel. There are a lot of people out there wanting to ride the coat tail of someone like Ben. I wish the very best for you, Ben. We all enjoyed watching you play this year!


RJ King 1 year ago

When an athlete accepts a full ride scholarship from a public university it kind of becomes everyone's business. The subject is fair game for all. I love Ben. We all love Ben! Keegan is just trying to capture the protective instincts in all of us. He states the obvious, and then moves on to Joni Mitchell. Give him a break - it's a slow Wednesday.

If we're talking agents and hustling, how about Mitchells' ode to David Geffen with "Free Man in Paris" lyrics? "Both Sides Now" is a great song, but can't listen to "Case of You" without Kleenex.

Do you s'pose Keegan was just tryin' to get the conversation going while we await the Wiggins annoucement?


Jonathan Andrews 1 year ago

Well put, Keegan. I don't often say that, so enjoy this comment.


KEITHMILES05 1 year ago

Does this writer lecture every KU athlete who leaves to go to bigger and better places? This isn't anybodys business other than those close to Ben.


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