Monday, October 3, 2011

Former NBA great Junior Bridgeman - Still living above the rim

Not all former black athletes are crying broke (Terrell Owens) on reality TV. Just check out former NBA baller - who is in fact balling and shot-calling - Junior Bridgeman.

This story came on my radar after watching the GE/Wendy's commericial.

Former NBA star Junior Bridgeman didn’t expect his children to follow him onto the basketball court or into the family business. All he expected was whatever they chose to do they gave it their all - starting at the bottom and working their way up.

After a celebrated career with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, Junior Bridgeman was working the line at a Wendy’s fast-food restaurant in Milwaukee. “My job was to make sure what you ordered was on your tray and to thank you for coming,” he told an assembled group of active and retired professional athletes hosted by the Allied Athletes Group earlier this year in Atlanta. “A woman came in and looked at me like she recognized me.” He didn’t think anything about it until the next day, when he heard a woman call into a local talk show and say, “I think it’s a shame. I was at the Wendy’s and I saw Junior Bridgeman working behind the counter … if that’s the best these ex-athletes can do…”

A few of the athletes shifted uncomfortably in their seats, and it’s pretty easy to visualize the reaction of today’s pampered NBA stars like Kobe Bryant or LeBron James if that sentiment was broadcast on their turf.

But Bridgeman just laughed. Perhaps, it’s because the last laugh really is his. He owned that particular Wendy’s plus several others. Today his company runs 162 Wendy’s and 121 Chili’s and is No. 3 on the Restaurant Finance Monitor’s Top 200 franchisee-owned companies, with $507 million in revenue. In addition, he has other restaurant deals in the works.
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