Best-selling author Stedman Graham says professional athletes should think of themselves as “a corporation unto themselves.” “They need to represent themselves as a major business would,” Graham said during a recent telephone interview. “That awareness is created by a different kind of thinking.”
Graham—who is perhaps best known as television star Oprah Winfrey’s boyfriend—brought that message to the Indiana Pacers during a three-hour private seminar in late January that was designed to get the players to rethink the importance of their individual images.
Players said they enjoyed the program, and Pacers officials are considering bringing Graham back for follow-up sessions.
“He talked a lot about brand and how that relates to your earning potential,” said Pacers guard Kareem Rush. “[Graham] focused on a lot of life issues, your inner circle, having your life organized and maintaining a real focus in all aspects of your life. It was very informative.”
Hiring Graham is another step Pacers management has taken to enhance player development and boost the players’ and team’s image in the wake of numerous high-profile off-court incidents, including shootings, strip club fights and, most recently, connections with accused murderers and rapists.
With the team’s attendance in a free fall—down more than 3,000 per game from last year and last in the National Basketball Association—the team is at a crossroads, sports marketers said . . .
In his talk with the Pacers, Graham emphasized how to use knowledge to grow and to focus on family and spirituality.
“I try to teach them to be lifelong learners and to take more control of their lives, and not just do what other people tell them to do,” Graham said.
I thought the Pacers were pretty stupid for wasting money paying this guy to give them advice, but then I saw this line in Schoette's story and realized the Pacers had a lot of company:
It’s the same message Graham delivers to executives employed by many of his corporate clients, which have included Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, CVS Pharmacy, Georgia Pacific, Pro-Line International, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Manpower, CNN and GlaxoSmithKline.
It seems to me the Pacers players just need some time-honored adult supervision in the form of explaining to them that they either start behaving on and off the court or they're off the team. You don't have to pay a pseudo celebrity for that sound and proven advice.