Vin Baker was in Las Vegas for NBA Summer League, working as an assistant coach for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was also there networking — what really goes on in Las Vegas, between scouts, GMs, coaches and the media. In Baker’s case, he was working to find an NBA assistant coaching job.
That didn’t seem to pan out, so he’s going to his fall back — owning a Starbucks.
Which means learning how to run a Starbucks. He is going through training on that now, something he talked about with Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal.
The world’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, barista is stationed behind a busy coffee counter. His smile and easy-going style welcome customers looking for their Starbucks fix as they fastbreak to work or South County’s beaches….
This is Vin Baker’s world these days. This is the same Baker who grew up in Old Saybrook, Conn., and went on to become one of New England’s all-time great collegiate basketball players at the University of Hartford. It’s the same Baker who won Olympic gold in 2000, played in four NBA All-Star Games and spent 13 years in the pros, including parts of two seasons with the Celtics.
It’s also the same Baker who battled alcoholism toward the end of his career. That addiction, plus a series of financial missteps ranging from a failed restaurant to simply too many hands dipping into his gold-plated cookie jar, combined to wipe out nearly $100 million in earnings.
Now 43, newly married and with four children, Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise.
Baker has experience and perspective that a lot of young NBA players could benefit from (at least those who would listen). But getting a foot in the door in the NBA is not easy, even for former All-Star players.
Whether owning or managing a Starbucks, what matters is that Baker is sober — four years now — and on a path that works for him. If you choose to view this as another athlete who blew through their money, ask yourself if you were an instant millionaire at 20, with a lot of other perks thrown at you, how mature would your decisions have been?
I’ll see this as a case of redemption, of a guy who got his life back and under control. I’d love to see him back around the NBA, but if not in a Starbucks works, too.