For many athletes, injuries signal the end of a career. For Alec Kessler, they are a career. After the Miami Heat signed him to a six-year, $7.4 million deal in 1990, the 6'10" forward-center floundered on the court. His rebound average (3.6) was lower than his grade point average at Georgia. After being released by Miami in '94, Kessler decided a radical change of career was in order. He took part of the $3 million remaining on his contract and used it to put himself through medical school at Emory in Atlanta and residency at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte.
Kessler, 37, fixes broken bones, replaces hips and treats trauma patients in his fifth and final year of orthopedic residency. "We invested conservatively," he says of himself and his wife, Rhea, whom he married in 1991. They traded in their Porsche 911 Turbo for a minivan after their sons Christopher, 10, and Nickolas, 9, came along. The rest of the basketball money that's not in stocks and bonds is in the more than two dozen houses the Kesslers have bought, refurbished and sold. "It's not a big business," Alec says. "It's more of a hobby."
Like basketball. Kessler doesn't play much anymore, although he sometimes misses the game. "There are a lot of rewards to be gained from it," he says. Especially the paychecks.