Sorry Vaccaro exited shoe business earlier this year. He's focusing on creating a basketball academy, writing a book, and lecturing on college campuses. And Baron Davis, through his production company, is planning a bio pic on Sonny. Sopranos star James Gandolfini has signed on to play Sonny. (Thanks Michael McCann via TrueHoop for the heads up.)
Sonny Vaccaro may be a controversial figure to some, but I've always appreciated the open discourse he fosters. Over ten years ago, I sat down with Sonny for one of the most lively discussions I ever had about basketball, politics and the NCAA and we've been friends ever since.
Some believe Sonny helped create many of the problems we see today in the basketball biz. Shoe companies and also television networks have a simple mission: Generate more and more revenue. If athletic departments have a problem with these corporate activities, then they certainly could just say no. No, we're not going to play games starting at 9pm on school nights. No, we're not going to use our student athletes as shills. Sounds good in theory, but every time an athletic director signs another multimillion dollar coaching contract or agrees to take on more debt to finance construction of new state-of-the-art facilities, the less likely he or she is to walk away from lucrative revenue opportunities. To slightly alter a favorite line from Seinfeld: Not that there's anything wrong with coaches making millions of dollars in college sports and tricked-out practice facilities.
[The rest of this post is me shilling my book, Money Players, which you really should purchase.] While no one ever accused Sonny of being altruistic, I appreciate this charitable quote for my upcoming book, Money Players:
"I truly respect Marc Isenberg for his thoughtful approach to the problems facing big-time sports. He is as honest and tenacious as they come. Marc doesn't just complain about a corrupt system; he offers thoughtful solutions. If you are a college or professional athlete, or if you care about athletes, you have to read Money Players."