Braggs learns money lesson
Ex-Muskie may have to go back overseas

Friday, November 20, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Torraye Braggs is learning the business of professional basketball quickly. Time is money.

If the NBA lockout does not end in the next 10 days or so, the Xavier graduate and second-round draft pick of the Utah Jazz may spend the rest of the basketball season overseas.

"At some point he's got to make a living," his agent Mark Bartelstein said Thursday. "I don't think he wants to wait around all year. If a deal comes around and is acceptable, he might jump at it."

Braggs, who has been playing in Spain since late August, returned to familiar territory Thursday. He put on his old practice uniform and took to the Schmidt Fieldhouse floor to work out with the Musketeers. Braggs said he played 13 games for the Caja Cantabria (Spain) Los Lobos, and averaged 17 points and seven rebounds. Though 6-foot-8, he said he was the tallest player on the smallest team in the league, and regularly guarded opponents 6-10 and taller, including one at 7-6.

Braggs said he was in the top 10 of almost every league statistical category.

"I played pretty decent," Braggs said. "From what I understand, I was one of the top rookies - if not the top rookie - in Europe."

He was originally signed through the end of September, then week to week. At first, Braggs was playing to keep in shape and gain experience. He started at $10,000 a month and got raises along the way to $15,000. But when it came time to negotiate for the next contract, Braggs asked for a raise based on how well he was producing; he and the team could not reach a deal.

So, with the league on a break until Dec. 13, he returned to Cincinnati. "All I asked for was what I thought was fair," Braggs said. "I wasn't asking them to break the bank, just a little security. The guy over there is a great businessman. Unfortunately, he's just not very basketball smart at all. All he knows is how to save a buck, and that's how he's looking at it.

"It's a cut-throat business. They'll do anything they can to save money, just like you'll do what you can to make money. It goes both ways. I definitely know it's a business."

Bartelstein said he is getting calls from several overseas teams, and had an offer from a team in France on Thursday. But all the teams want Braggs to finish the season and not return immediately to the Utah Jazz should the lockout end. The European leagues finish around April, then go into their playoffs.

Braggs is paying close attention to the NBA lockout.

"If they settle the NBA thing in a few weeks, there's no way I'm going back (overseas), but I can't wait for them to make up their minds," Braggs said. "In another three weeks, I'll probably be gone."

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