Need a Job? Hope is Out There.

During the interviews, cases and general meet-and-greet of Hell Week, I increasingly found the need to sit back and search for the proverbial silver lining. Luckily, the NBA provided evidence that hope is out there for all of us. If you’re still looking for that perfect job, or if you’re just looking to improve your BATNA, sports is full of encouraging examples that no matter how low your skill set, you too can be richly rewarded.

Backup Center / Power Forward, Boston Celtics:
Vin Baker made more than $12 million last year, and he gets to ride that salary for another three years. So what, you say? Consider that he made as much as players like Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson, and more than Tim Duncan and Tracy McGrady. Through the All-Star break, Baker waas averaging 5.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. To put that in perspective, there are eighteen rookies averaging more points per game, and nine with a better rebounding average. If anyone embodies the danger of long-term contracts in professional sports, it’s Vin Baker. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a genuine person and a great guy. But he makes about $11 million too much. And frankly, every time I see him I wish we had Rodney Rogers back.

LESSON #1: You can be tall and bad at what you do, and make a lot of money.

Backup Point Guard, Portland Trailblazers:
Think Vin is an outlier? Damon Stoudamire almost cracked the Top 10 in NBA salaries last year, at about $13.5 million. So what are the Blazers getting for their money? About 5.4 points and 2.8 assists per game. Yes, his totals are way down because Maurice Cheeks has cut back his playing time. But there’s a reason for that. And it’s not because of misdemeanors he commits with Rasheed Wallace.

LESSON #2: You can be short and bad at what you do, and make a lot of money.

Of course, there’s the Paul Allen dimension to this too, which shouldn’t be ignored:

LESSON #3: You can make a lot of money if you work for a Microsoft co-founder.

Special Corollary: You can also make a lot of money if your boss’ name is Steinbrenner.

If you aren’t encouraged yet, remember that it’s not just the NBA. You can also be fat, slow and mediocre (LESSON #4: see Vaughn, Mo) or just plain ignorant and stupid (LESSON #5: see Rocker, John) and still make out handsomely.

The point here is that you shouldn’t get down just because you didn’t get your dream job on the first pass. Don’t give up! Someone out there is dying to pay you more than you’re worth. You’ve just got to find them, like these lucky souls did.