Junior Bridgeman is often remembered as part of a trivia question: Who was traded for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? (Bridgeman was just drafted by the Lakers and was part of the deal with Dave Meyers, Elmore Smith and Brian Winters.)
Later in his career Bridgeman was traded for Terry Cummings, but that rarely comes up in trivia games.
Bridgeman had a solid 12-year NBA career for the Bucks and Clippers, where he was one of the best sixth men in the league for years. He averaged 13.6 points a game for his career and in 1979-80 he averaged 17.6.
What’s he doing now? Making a lot of money according to Franchise Times Magazine.
Today his company runs 162 Wendy’s and 121 Chili’s and is No. 3 on the Restaurant Finance Monitor’s Top 200 franchisee-owned companies, with $507 million in revenue.
Bridgeman owned three Wendy’s before he was even out of the league. He even spent some time getting a first-hand feel for things by working one of his Wendy’s in Milwaukee.
That led to someone recognizing him wearing the Wendy’s uniform and calling in a sports talk show saying how sad it was see a player having blown their money and having to work saying, “do you want fries with that.” Bridgeman got a good laugh out of that one.
In an era where all to often we write about guys who blew through their millions, of guys who didn’t learn the skills really needed to run a business, the Bridgeman story is a nice change. And a reminder that a lot of guys do just fine after they leave the game, thank you very much.