As a backup center for the Pacers, Mark West is a galaxy away
from Planet Shaq when it comes to fielding endorsement offers
and prospective movie roles. But if West's financial portfolio
hasn't been bolstered by his marketability, it has burgeoned
because of his market ability. West has seen 14 seasons worth of
NBA earnings mushroom as he has played Wall Street with the same
contained aggressiveness as he plays low-post defense.
"I majored in finance in college [Old Dominion] so I wasn't
starting from scratch, but when I first got into the league, I
wanted to learn more about the market and how to invest my
money," says West, 37, who has been a licensed broker since 1992
and will earn a reported $1 million this season while playing
with his sixth NBA team. Surprisingly, he credits former Suns
teammate and infamous flake Joe Barry Carroll, a student of
finance, with piquing his interest in investment strategies.
A broker with Prudential Securities' office in suburban Phoenix,
where he played six seasons for the Suns and where he makes his
off-season home, West spends the bulk of his NBA downtime
on-line with his Toshiba 730 laptop. "Luckily this is the
information age, so I can get quotes and make trades for myself
and for clients by using my modem," he says. "Sometimes I'll get
back to the hotel after a game and there'll be all sorts of
messages and balance sheets for me to look at."
West, who won't reveal either his net worth or the details of
his portfolio, has no overriding investment strategy. "I don't
do many high-risk trades, and I don't buy on the margin," he
says. Befitting a man who stands nearly 7-feet tall, West adds,
"I'm not the type to short the market, either."
His reputation as a savvy speculator notwithstanding, West has
no interest in soliciting teammates' business. He is, however,
more than happy to share his expertise with his colleagues,
rookies in particular. "When you don't grow up with this kind of
knowledge or exposure--and a lot of the guys in the league
didn't, myself included--it's easy to lose your shirt trying to
win the world in a hurry," says West. "I just try to explain
that if you keep a level head and try to be aggressive without
being frivolous, you can do well in a short amount of time."
--L. JON WERTHEIM
MARK WEST'S PICKS
Intel, Eli Lilly, Procter & Gamble
Chase Manhattan, Microsoft, Wal-Mart