GERY WOELFEL: Butler building for the future
GERY WOELFEL firstname.lastname@example.org
| Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 11:16 pm | No Comments Posted
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buy this photo Photo by Nam Y. Huh Associated Press: Two-time NBA All-Star and Racine native Caron Butler is not only preparing for life after basketball, he’s also working to make a difference in Racine.
There is a tendency in our society to place labels on people. Professional athletes are a prime example.
Pro athletes are often perceived as dumb jocks. They supposedly lack the mental faculties to excel in a field outside their chosen profession.
That, of course, is ludicrous. We have seen that stereotype blown out of the water on countless occasions over the years.
Former Green Bay Packers star Willie Davis made a nice segue from the football field into the corporate boardroom.
Ditto for Junior Bridgeman and Jon McGlocklin, two former Milwaukee Bucks stars who became successful businessmen.
It's become increasingly apparent the ones who peg athletes as dumb are indeed the dumb ones themselves.
Which brings us to Racine native Caron Butler. He is well on his way to proving his talents aren't exclusively athletic.
Butler, a former Park High School and current Dallas Mavericks star, decided several years ago that his abilities extend beyond a basketball court.
"Ever since I was 24, I've been thinking outside the box,'' the 30-year-old Butler said. "As an athlete, you don't know the life expectancy of your career.
"I want to do a lot of things with my life. I want to make as much money off the court as I've made on the court.
"I want to continue to grown and build my net worth.''
That is a lofty entrepreneurial goal as Butler already is in the high-end tax bracket. He is a millionaire many times over.
Butler will be paid $10.6 million this season and could earn even more next summer. That's when he could be an unrestricted free agent and sign with the team of his choice ... or accept a multi-year extension from the Mavs.
Either way, Butler's net worth will inevitably expand.
But Butler is in the process of branching out and attempting to maximize all of his other skills, including those in the business sector.
He is the sole proprietor of six Burger King restaurants around the country.
"I once worked at Burger King in Racine,'' Butler said. "I know the business. I know it from the janitorial spot all the way through the management side.
"I know that game inside and out.''
Butler has also had discussions with Mark Cuban, the Mavericks' billionaire owner, about "shadowing" him and learning more about the intricacies of business.
Butler also intends on taking a course in business next summer at Duke University.
While Butler was just like almost every other kid growing up who wanted to be "Just like Mike" - as in Jordan - he now wants to be just like Magic - as in Johnson.
"Just seeing what Magic Johnson has done and is doing is unreal," Butler said. "He's part-owner of the (Los Angeles) Lakers, he owns Starbucks, Burger Kings, LA Fitnesses and theaters.
"I'm trying to get more and more involved in different things like him."
Butler then flashed that mega-watt smile of his and quipped, "At 30, Magic wasn't a Burger King owner yet."
Even though Butler is consumed with broadening his horizons, he remains devoted tow helping his hometown become an even better place to work and live.
Butler's contributions to our city over the years have been well-chronicled and, this summer, he's continued lending a hand.
Butler helped usher in the successful midnight basketball league at the Bray Center, bringing along a surprise guest for the occasion, teammate and fellow NBA All-Star Shawn Marion.
Butler also held his sixth annual "Bike Brigade," where he distributed 250 spanking new bikes to youths in the community.
There was just one caveat, though.
"The young kids had to sign peace pledges," Butler said. "They pledged to become great pillars in our community.
"And they had to abide by the rules, that they ride safely and that they ride with helmets."
Butler also sponsored a free concert at Memorial Hall, one that featured some nationally-renowned hip hoppers, including Waka Flocka and Yo Gotti.
Again, there was a caveat.
In order to get a free ticket, each person had to bring four canned food items to the concert. Approximately, 1,800 people attended the event; 7,200 canned food items were collected.
Butler, who seemingly has boundless energy, is also sponsoring several Amateur Athletic Union basketball teams and even arranged a meeting where former Park High basketball player Josh Cameron got to meet LeBron James.
"I've been working out Josh, and LeBron is his favorite player," Butler explained. "So I had LeBron talk to him. LeBron gave him some inspirational words."
Butler's fondest moment of the summer, however, came a couple of weeks ago. That's when he and his wife, Andrea, welcomed the newest member of their family into the world: daughter Ava.
Ava, whose godfather is Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade, joins siblings Camary, Caron Jr. and Mia.
"I love kids," Butler said. "I learn so much being around my children. They keep me young.
"They're the most important thing to me in the world. I always say, ‘Family first.' I got that tatted on my back."
Butler will be leaving for Dallas in a couple of weeks in preparation for the upcoming NBA season, but he plans to keep coming back to Racine as much as possible. He realizes there is plenty of work to be done in this community and he's willing to do his part.
"Racine has been hit hard by the economy,'' Butler said. "But we got a lot of great energy in this city, a lot of great people.
"One of the things I want to do is bring more opportunity and more awareness to Racine. I don't want to get into it, but we got some big things coming to the city within the next two years.
"I look forward to big things for this city."
And for himself.