Remember Baby Jordan?

Once upon a time there was a player named Baby Jordan.  Today that same player – Harold Miner – is 39 years old and unemployed in Las Vegas.  

But don’t feel sorry for Miner.  There is a very good reason why he is unemployed.  To see this reason, let’s review the Miner story (as recently reported at Yahoo!):

Miner became a household name almost two decades ago as a junior at USC by piling up points and dunks during the 1991-92 season. Miner had the shaved head, No. 23 jersey, MJ mannerisms and the spectacular slams that reminded many of “His Airness.” Suddenly, the “Baby Jordan” nickname he picked up on the playgrounds of Inglewood had spread across the nation and made him a star…

Miner led USC to a No. 2 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament, becoming USC’s all-time leading scorer (a record he still holds) and earning Sports Illustrated’s college basketball’s Player of the Year award over LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal and Duke’s Christian Laettner. But the storybook season came to an abrupt end when Georgia Tech’s James Forrest knocked the Trojans out of the second round on a legendary buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Weeks later, Miner held an emotional press conference to announce he would be turning pro.

Taken 12th overall in the ’92 draft, the lefty swingman was expected to become a scoring and marketing machine. He signed a five-year, $7.3-million contract with the Heat as a rookie and an endorsement deal with Nike reportedly worth $14 million.

As Yahoo! reports, Miner still is living off the more than $20 million he was given back in 1992.  In other words, Miner is unemployed because he doesn’t have to work. 

What did Miner do for this privilege?  Again, he left USC as the school’s all-time leading scorer. And as an NBA player, he averaged 23.1 points pe 48 minutes played across the 200 games he appeared.

But his overall production was quite low. Here is his year-by-year production of wins.

  • 1992-93: 0.2 Wins Produced, 0.007 WP48 [Wins Produced per 48 minutes]
  • 1993-94: 1.4 Wins Produced, 0.050 WP48
  • 1994-95: -0.7 Wins Produced, -0.039 WP48
  • 1995-96: -0.5 Wins Produced, -0.177 WP48
  • Career: 0.4 Wins Produced, 0.005 WP48

Yes, across these 200 games, Miner essentially produced nothing.  He did score when he played.  But he really didn’t help his team win.

At the age of 25 – as Miner notes in the article – injuries ended his career. 

And now his career reminds us again of a lesson all young players should learn. 

Young players should focus on scoring.  And furthermore, learn to score as dramatically as possible (Miner won two slam dunk titles).  If you can score in a fashion that attracts attention, scouts – and apparently Nike – will give you plenty of money. And even if your career doesn’t work out — and even if you never really produce wins —  you will still be fine.

– DJ

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