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Sport of Money: Baron Davis on Being an Entrepreneur and the Importance of Learning and Listening

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After being drafted with the third overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft, Baron Davis spent 13 seasons in the National Basketball League. Even though he retired in 2012, his career after basketball was just getting started.

Davis was an early investor in Vitamin Water (which later was purchased by Coca-Cola), started a mobile gaming developer company called 5 Balloons Interactive and founded The Black Santa Company, which is both a charitable endeavor and apparel designer and content creation company.

The two-time All-Star is also on the advisory board for Tinley Beverage Company, an investor in Blue Wire Podcast and founder SLIC (Sports and Lifestyle Culture), a sports media and production company.

Entrepreneurship is something Davis says has always been “in” him. While growing up in South Central, Los Angeles, Davis started his own clothing line and admittedly was always trying to stay ahead of the curve even while playing in the NBA.

The former point guard acknowledges the similarities in learning experiences and lessons that led to a successful career playing basketball are also helping him achieve success as a businessman.

Read the full video transcript for more on Davis' advice to entrepreneurs:

Bill Enright: Are you as competitive in business, or maybe even more so, than when you were playing in the NBA?

Baron Davis: Yes, because your money is involved.

Bill Enright: Baron David spent 13 years as an NBA guard and now he is one of the biggest professional athlete business entrepreneurs. I'm very happy to welcome him to the Sport of Money. How are you doing, Baron?

Baron Davis: How you doing? What's happening, Bill?

Bill Enright: I'm doing great. Tell me, at what point in your career did you really start focusing on being an entrepreneur and being a successful one at that?

Baron Davis: When I was 17 years old. I just always figured that there were loopholes in the system and coming from South Central Los Angeles, didn't have really an opportunity to work or anything and our family was still struggling. So when I became semi-famous in basketball, I would say in high school, I started to develop my own clothing line, things like that. So I was just always kind of like before the curve and cutting edge and I think that's kind of how I got my jobs.

Bill Enright: Talk about being on the cutting edge, you invested, very early investor, in Vitamin Water. When you find out that Coca Cola's buying it for four billion dollars, do you know that this is the ultimate high in terms of being an entrepreneur? Seeing one of your investments like that really pay off huge dividends.

Baron Davis: Yeah. I think that was a nice payoff and most importantly, a great learning opportunity and a learning experience. And so it led me to know and trust my instincts and my judge of character and people. And I think for Vitamin Water, it really gave me the opportunity to learn marketing, to learn how a startup company grows to a company with over 5,000, 10,000 employees.

Bill Enright: When you look back at what got you to the NBA, your work ethic, your drive, your dedication, self discipline, now that you're in a businessman or entrepreneur role, what kind of things can you take that maybe are related or similar, to help you achieve success in both categories?

Baron Davis: Listen. Do your research. Study, study, study. You can't get ahead if you don't study. If you don't know your opponent, if you don't know your teammates, if you don't know your coach, you don't know your industry, if you don't know your playbook. Study, study, study and listen, listen and watch. Watch great people. Admire people who are great in what they do in their respective talents, whether it's business or in sports. And learn to appreciate them and learn what you can do to make them better because that's how you become a sponge and that's really how you start to really, I would say, sharpen your tools as whether an entrepreneur or in basketball.

Bill Enright: Talk to me a little bit about Black Santa and why it's important, not only to have a sustainable business, but also help out the community as well.

Baron Davis: Well for me, it was we can start reversing our mentality and it would also start to reverse the way that people look at African American men in society. And so what if we had our own Santa Claus and that was a representation or a brand or a character that was related to Black men in general that were friendly, but tough, we're giving, we're happy. You know what I mean? And we're all about servicing, servicing our people, servicing the community, servicing joy and happiness. And so that was really the basis.

Bill Enright: Baron Davis, thank you so much for your time.

Baron Davis: Thank you. Appreciate it.

Bill Enright: Good luck with everything.

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