The world of sports always seems to have good examples of unfortunate employer/employee situations. Maybe this is because of the combination of significant amounts of money and the media spotlight. Two seasons ago the Dallas Mavericks signed shooting guard Delonte West. To say that West has some baggage is an understatement. It seemed unlikely that the Mavericks relationship with West would end well – this turned out to be true.
West’s previous stop was with the Cleveland Cavaliers. While there it was rumored that West had an affair with Lebron James’ mother. West was also arrested for gun possession when he was pulled over while on his motorcycle. At that point he had a handgun in his pocket, another in his pant leg, and a shotgun in his guitar case that was strapped to his back.
Probably my favorite story was during the NBA strike last year. West needed a job and filled out an application for a furniture store. On the application, which went viral, he described the gun arrest as a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, it is also reported that West has bipolar disorder and takes medication for his condition.
Finally, West had one last ingredient for his employment cocktail – he is an active social media user. Yes, West liked to use Twitter and also maintains a personal website.
Season one with the Mavericks seemed to go well. Except for the incident where West gave a Utah Jazz player a wet willy and fined $25,000.00. Season two spun out of control. Apparently there were two locker room outbursts that led to his release.
What is the takeaway for employers? Yes, everyone deserves a second chance but the odds are they are going to repeat their previous behaviors. Sports are a bad example in that employers are willing to take huge gambles on athletes with serious issues because they can run fast or throw a tight spiral. Typical employers should not take such risks. Employment histories that include red flags should be extensively addressed by the employer before hiring. Some times it pays for the employer to pay attention to their gut instinct about potential hires.