HoopsHype Vin Baker rumors

August 21, 2014 Updates

Vin Baker's gold medal from the 2000 Olympics in Sydney sold for $67,642 on Thursday morning. The medal, sold by Grey Flannel Auctions, is believed to be the first Olympic gold medal publicly sold of a pro U.S. men's basketball player since NBA players started playing in the Olympics beginning with the "Dream Team" in 1992. Carmelo Anthony's bronze medal from the 2004 games sold in June for $14,080. ESPN.com

July 31, 2014 Updates

Four-time NBA All-Star Vin Baker is auctioning off the gold medal that he won with USA Basketball at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Grey Flannel Auctions has listed the gold medal, which is in mint condition and includes letters of authentication from Baker, with a starting bid of $35,000. Bidding will be open until Aug. 20. Sports Illustrated

April 5, 2014 Updates

A Former American basketball player has said that he regrets going on the 'eerie' diplomacy trip to North Korea with the controversial Dennis Rodman to meet Kim Jong-un. Former NBA player Vin Baker traveled to North Korea with Rodman and seven additional former NBA All-Star players in January to play an exhibition game against the North Korean basketball team, after which they were introduced to the North Korean leader. According to The Huffington Post, Baker said that he was 'shocked, surprised, disappointed and hurt' following the controversial trip, adding that he believes in hindsight, most of the players who went in that trip would have given it a second thought. Big News Network

January 5, 2014 Updates

Dennis Rodman has named a team of former NBA players to participate in an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea. Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges, Doug Christie and Charles D. Smith are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Wednesday, marking North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's birthday. Rodman is the highest profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power after his father died in late 2011. Rodman calls the game his version of "basketball diplomacy." USA Today Sports

January 4, 2014 Updates
February 10, 2013 Updates

Vin Baker is resting an elbow on a wooden pulpit, his 6-11 body wrapped in a snappy, plaid suit that seems to stretch on forever. He takes a deep breath and exhales, his long face looking down for a moment. The audience waits patiently, kids sitting up straight. Then, Baker, a four-time NBA All-Star, tells his story, difficult as it might be. Delivering a sermon is harder than shooting free throws, he says. “At one point I thought having a full armor of God was having a sneaker in my name and having millions of dollars,” he says with a smile, looking out to a small crowd seated in folding chairs. “In my career, I amassed $105 million. Sounds like a pretty big armor, right?” Most of the adults in the crowd quickly reply with an “Uh huh.” Baker smiles and goes on. New York Daily News

“When you’re protected by the armor of God, it doesn’t matter how much money you had or how many gold medals you won in the Olympics. No, the armor means praying and having the armor protect you from the enemy.” He speaks without notes, his voice getting stronger. “When you get some $100 million, it’s easy to forget about God,” said Baker, who spent some time with the Knicks. “I’m guilty. I forgot about church on Sunday. But he brought me back under his protection.” New York Daily News

Baker doesn’t attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or follow a 12-step program. But he does subscribe to a higher power. Since May, out of the public eye, in a basement of the Abyssinian Church in Harlem, Baker has served as a youth minister, running Sunday morning prayer services and counseling young adults in the evenings. He does this for no money, with little glamour or fanfare. He is no longer Vin Baker the Olympian, who once won 61 games alongside Gary Payton with the Seattle SuperSonics. He is far removed from that life. Now, he is a student at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan, studying to get his Master’s degree in divinity with the hopes of becoming a pastor, just like his father, who also struggled with alcohol and stopped drinking after a religious awakening at age 20. Baker lives in a sparse but pleasant two-bedroom dorm at Union, a change from the 9,613-square foot mansion in Connecticut he once called home. New York Daily News

Baker described his existence in the NBA as leading a “double life.” He practiced and played in games and drank heavily at night. And he kept his habit a secret. His father James Baker describes him as a “closet alcoholic.” Says Baker’s longtime former accountant, Donald Brodeur Jr., “I never witnessed Vin intoxicated during the whole time that I was working with him.” Baker is currently suing Brodeur for mismanaging his finances. New York Daily News

Isiah Thomas and the Knicks pounced and signed Baker on March 12, 2004. Baker cried at his introductory press conference, but was soon traded to the Rockets and former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy. He didn’t stick there either, eventually washing out of the league in 2006. In the process, he blew nearly all his money on bad investments, such as a restaurant he opened in 2005 called “Vinnie’s Saybrook Fish House” that drained “nearly all of Baker’s remaining assets,” according to a copy of the complaint against Brodeur, obtained by the Daily News and provided by Brodeur. “You don’t open a restaurant when you’re an alcoholic,” Baker explains. “I mean, that’s not rocket science. Bad life changes because of my alcoholism landed me into a place of financial — a terrible place financially. You don’t wake up from X amount of years of being an alcoholic, and saying, ‘Well, at least I still have my money.’ It’s very rare.” New York Daily News

Baker never considered suicide, but he realized he was headed toward a messy ending if he continued on that path. “I just got tired of being tired,” Baker says. “I just got tired of feeling sorry for myself.” Baker checked himself into the Rushford Center in Middletown, Conn. for a week, the fourth and final time he would seek help for substance abuse, he says. “I’ve always had ministry in my heart,” he says. “So when I left detox I went straight to the church. I just committed myself to the Lord.” New York Daily News

Baker credits former Seattle Supersonic owner and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz with helping him come to New York and turn his life around. Schultz had a relationship with Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts III of the Abyssinian Church. Baker and Butts hit it off when they met, and Baker moved to New York this past summer. For seven months, Baker quietly went about his business at the church. It wasn’t until a reporter saw him at a local basketball tournament in late December that he agreed to speak out for the first time. And he did so only because he wanted to bring attention to his ministry and to the students he coaches. One of those is Dimencio Vaughn, a star sophomore forward on the Thurgood Marshall basketball team. When Vaughn’s grandmother died of a heart attack on New Year’s Day (“Right when the ball dropped,” Vaughn says), it was Baker who counseled him. “He’s like, ‘You got to keep pushing yourself, don’t let it stop you,” Vaughn said. “ ‘I know you loved her, just do this for her and yourself.’ It made me cool down.” New York Daily News

January 25, 2012 Updates

Retired NBA All-Star Vincent Baker claims his financial adviser lost nearly all of his $86 million nest egg through negligent investments. Baker signed a 7-year, $86.6 million contract with the Seattle SuperSonics in 1999. He scored 11,839 points and had 5,867 rebounds in a 14-year pro career. He was selected for four straight All-Star Games and played on the Dream Team that won gold in the 2000 Olympics. Courthouse News

He hired Donald S. Brodeur Jr. and Brodeur & Co. Certified Public Accountants in 1997, to manage his finances, according to his complaint in Middlesex County Court. Brodeur & Co. (B&C) advertises its services to professional athletes on its website. A visit to the site this morning found this statement: "Over the past seventeen years, we have developed a specialization in the area of Athlete Accounting by providing accounting, tax, and advisory support to professional sports agents and athletes in the NBA, MLB, and NFL." Courthouse News

June 12, 2011 Updates

His 13-year NBA career included stops in Boston, New York, Houston and Los Angeles (Clippers). He averaged 15 points and just over seven rebounds per game over those years. “I’m proud of my NBA career, the majority of it, on the court,” Baker said. “But I’m not satisfied with what happened off the court.” Baker’s NBA career was likely less productive than it could have been had he been able to stay away from alcohol. His drinking problem began in Seattle and hastened his departure from Boston before eventually ending his pro career. The Bulletin

April 12, 2011 Updates

Personal life in shambles, Vin Baker’s NBA career ended in 2006 on a disappointing note. Five years later, Baker is well on the way to putting his life back together. Right now, in part, that means coaching the ninth grade team at his alma mater, Old Saybrook High School in Connecticut. “I want young people to understand that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others,” Baker says in the newest issue of SLAM, SLAM 148. “You have to take care of yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically. It’s just that simple.” SLAM

October 29, 2010 Updates

Six years after the Boston Celtics terminated him for violating his alcohol treatment program, a near-broke Vin Baker has come to terms with how alcoholism and depression squandered a 13-year career — and an $87 million contract. While promoting a book he’s written about his ordeal, Baker admitted in an appearance on Connecticut’s Stan Simpson Show that he began to recognize the existence of a problem before the 2002 trade that sent him from the Seattle SuperSonics to the Celtics. “Towards the end of my Seattle career, when I was traded to Boston, I knew something was going on that I had to change,” Baker told Simpson. “At the time, I really couldn’t change it, because it’s a disease. It affects 18 million Americans. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. I had to fix it. It was a situation where the support system around me was tough.” WEEI.com

In Boston, Baker sunk deeper into the diseases that had already derailed a promising career. In just 89 games over two seasons, he averaged only 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds before being suspended from the team when coach Jim O’Brien smelled alcohol on his breath during a practice. Baker said he wanted to change, but couldn’t. “I had to figure out a way to make it right,” Baker said in his appearance on the Connecticut FOX affiliate. “I couldn’t make it right. The Celtics – a great organization – they worked with me, but with my issues I didn’t take the time I needed to take to make it right.” It’s a shame Baker’s career fell off so sharply and abruptly, considering that four-year stretch — averaging 19.7 points and 9.6 rebounds — before a 1998-99 NBA lockout that saw the New England native balloon to 300 pounds. “When you’re doing certain things on the court, a lot of times people just trust your talents,” Baker added in the interview. “They don’t know what’s going on inside your heart and your mind, and it becomes very difficult to relay to people that, you know, I might be struggling with something. Entertainers, basketball players, NFL players - sometimes it gets to a point where they don’t understand who you are as a person. They just look at the money, the power, the fame.” WEEI.com

October 28, 2010 Updates

Former NBA Vin Baker talked exclusively on "The Stan Simpson Show" about how alcoholism and personal problems derailed his 13-year NBA career and contributed to him squandering more than $80 million. "[I am] at a point in my life where I want to be educational and spiritual to other people," said Baker. He talked about how straying from his upbringing caused his problems and how people were reluctant to help. "Success came fast for me, and a lot of times people will look at you and say 'this is our guy, our hero' -- but heroes fall. Heroes have problems, heroes have situations that they go through. A lot of times people don't jump to help heroic people. '' Baltimore Sun

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