Continuing our focus on executive protection, we realize that professional athletes not only need protection from other people, but often need protection from themselves for their own reputation. Time and again, professional athletes in the public eye have demonstrated that having such immense amounts of wealth, fame, and attitude can lead to less-than-cogent decisions.
In 1997, Houston Rockets’ power forward Charles Barkley ran into trouble with the law when he was arrested for throwing a man through a bar window. The Rockets gave him an ultimatum: either quit the sport (under the guise of “retiring”) or get his act together by hiring security to keep him in line. Barkley opted to hire security, and this became his saving grace for the rest of his career. He finished the remainder of that season plus two more with the Rockets without any incidents of note, and went on to perform professional commentary in the industry he loved.
Certain executive protection firms lay out strict guidelines, such as ones Dennis Rodman’s bodyguards enforced for him. They adhered to several major rules: no driving after a single sip of liquor, no carrying weapons on his person, and no retaliation toward unwelcome comments from the peanut gallery. Rodman’s bodyguard even went so far as to book adjoining hotel rooms and leave the door between them unlocked, even if Rodman entertained female company overnight.
The kind of protection Rodman received was not merely intended to protect him from “bad guys,” but to protect Rodman from himself, from doing things that could harm his reputation. While 95% of fans are mostly agreeable, 5% are said to be problematic. These 5% of fans tend to stir up trouble and when mixed with professional ego, tempers can combust. These actions done in anger are what cause athletes to catapult into the news headlines, and that is what we, as an executive protection firm, strive to avoid.
A recent example of a ball player who could have used a security detail was Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks. The incident started after Chris Copeland of the Indiana Pacers and his girlfriend were stabbed in a skirmish outside a club in the New York Chelsea district where Sefolosha had just arrived. With a crowd gathering around, the police urged everyone to disperse, including Sefolosha and his teammate Pero Antic. The claims NYPD pressed against Sefolosha are that he was “obstructing governmental administration” when he refused to leave. More than likely, Sefolosha was merely concerned for his friend, but the police took that to be disorderly conduct instead and forced him to the ground, allegedly breaking his leg in the process (though when the injury actually occurred remains debatable). As a result of the broken leg, Stefolosha will not be playing in the playoffs with the Atlanta Hawks.
This story would have played out quite differently if he had relied on bodyguards to better handle the situation. When they heard the news of Sefolosha’s arrest, fellow NBA stars John Wall and LeBron James both acknowledged sympathetically that they keep security close at all times to be a buffer between them and police in similar situations.
As unfortunate as this incident with Sefolosha, Antic and Copeland is, it further proves that constant executive protection services for professional athletes is not only a good idea, but also a necessity. For those athletes choosing to seek protection, consider Holliday Investigative Services for all your needs. Licensed to practice in New York—the scene of the latest incident—and currently headquartered in Georgia with offices in California and Florida, Holliday Investigative Services promises to provide you the necessary support to keep you out of trouble and out of tabloid headlines, protecting you from yourself and from others.