your leg feels better you can report a day or two late," he said.
"Thank you. Bye." Click. It seemed so abrupt. I felt a little chill
come over me. I had lost a dream. Just like that. Click.
If I hadn't been
so messed up with drugs, I would have called three weeks in advance to work
something out with the Nets. I could have rehabilitated the ankle, then
reported to the Nets. Or they could have helped with my ankle. But I couldn't
go to the Nets the way I was; I would have been kicked out for drugs. I would
have been in the papers. There was no way. Instead, I lied to myself. To them.
My ankle didn't
cost me that tryout. My drugs did. I felt worthless.
I had gotten to
the point where I was powerless over cocaine and drugs in general. My life was
unmanageable. I couldn't save money. I would read about other people getting in
trouble with drugs, and say to myself, No way. This will never happen to me.
Everybody does cocaine. Everybody gets high. I just enjoy it.
People I was
hanging out with reinforced these thoughts. They would say, "You'll be all
right." But I'd be all right only if I had enough money to chip in for the
next free-base. They always wanted somebody else to join them in their
I didn't want to
give up basketball, but it was time to put my Villanova degree to a test.
Unlike so many players, especially at other schools, I had graduated.
It was time to
enter the job market. I majored in communications arts, but I didn't want to
deal with some small-town radio station doing the midnight-to-6 a.m. shift or
the morning steer report. And I didn't want to deal with any rinky-dink TV
station. It just wasn't me. I decided to be a salesman. Everybody always told
me, "You've got the mouth. You've got the looks. You've got the energy. Why
don't you be a salesman?" I wanted everything right away. Buy some clothes
that would look good. Not worry about anything like a bank account. Just drink
and drug now.
I took a job in
Delaware as a salesman for a food company. I received expense money but went
through it fast, turning in phony receipts. I called in sick when I was only
tired or hung over. I was fired. I had interviewed for some jobs on Wall
Street. In mid-January, I finally got the offer I wanted. I was hired by
Richard Jackson, a successful broker with RMJ Securities Corp. in New York
City, who would train me to be a broker in Treasury bills. I was psyched. With
its fast pace and high rollers. Wall Street was everything I expected it to be.
It was like a clubhouse in there, like a locker room, full of hard workers and
bad language, and I was loving it.
Before I started
work, Mr. Jackson told me he didn't tolerate drugs. He had fired people for
using them, and he would again. Drugs were prevalent on Wall Street, he told
me. Get caught and you're out. He wasn't telling me this because he suspected
me of anything. He brought it up just as he would with any new employee. But he
could just as well have been Coach Mass in Coach Donlon's living room. I didn't
think anything of it. I would probably party a little, but I thought my years
of craziness were over.
I was wrong. My
first couple of weeks on Wall Street I was out every night, drinking. A couple
of nights I went drugging. Some other guys on Wall Street did cocaine with me.
They would tell me, "Listen, down here all you have is your word and your
reputation. Anybody finds out about this, man, you're gone. So whatever you do,
never tell anybody."