Former NBA player Malik Allen traveled the world during his basketball career. He’s stayed in five-star hotels, lived in famous American cities and been in packed arenas with some of the best players in the game.
While the 35-year-old Allen misses all that, he knew one day his playing career would come to a close. The former Shawnee High School star was ready for retirement in 2011, prepared for his next step in life.
That adjustment is not easy for other athletes. But Allen, who played at Villanova before 10 seasons in the NBA, could be the poster boy for how to deal with life when the cheering stops.
Many athletes — high school, college or professional — have a tough time figuring out what to do with their lives once their athletic careers end. They may never have a Plan B or any idea of what to do with their time or energy.
With the average career for NBA players lasting just 4.8 years, and Allen playing more than twice that long, he’s clearly outside the norm.
“I was very fortunate,” said Allen, co-founder of inRecruit, a sports social network company that helps athletes with the recruiting process.
“My mother (Tracey Allen) has been a big part of my life and I’ve always had a good support system. I also think the NBA really did a good job of really trying to drive the point home that it’s not going to last forever.”
Allen is one of several former star athletes from South Jersey who made a smooth transition after their playing careers ended. Growing up in South Jersey, Allen longed to play in the NBA.
It didn’t hurt that he grew to be 6-foot-10. After leading Shawnee to two state championships in high school, Allen signed with Villanova. He became a second-team, All-Big East player for the Wildcats his senior season, when he led in scoring and rebounding. But Allen went unpicked in the 2000 NBA draft.
He played a season with the San Diego Wildfire in the ABA and in the International Basketball League, then caught on with the Miami Heat for the 2001-02 season. His final NBA season was with the Orlando Magic in 2010-11.
Allen played in total of 478 NBA games (starting in 125), averaging 4.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg in 15.2 mpg. He averaged career high 9.6 ppg and 5.3 rpg for Miami Heat in 2002-03 season.
“I miss it, no question,” admitted Allen, who played 10 NBA seasons with eight teams. “But it’s one of those things where life goes on. I loved it. It was such a huge part of my life, not just the NBA, but basketball generally.”
Today, the Wayne, Pa., resident is married with two children and works in King of Prussia. He and inRecruit co-founder Joseph Rocco, a Bishop Eustace grad, graduated from Villanova together in 2000.
Allen, who also runs the Malik Allen Basketball Academy at Medford Memorial Middle School each summer, had people tell him he should coach. He admires the charities and the foundations that some players start, but wanted to find other ways to give back.
Ironically, the most recent NBA lockout in June 2011 gave him time to ponder what his next move would be. That’s when inRecruit was born.
The business focuses on networking, news and recruiting to assist coaches, athletes and parents.
“I always wanted to do something where I was giving back at the same time,” Allen explained.
“I think that really rolled into what we’re trying to do with inRecruit now. I thought, let’s try to do something a little different in a way of helping – helping the athlete, the parent, trying to do something that’s very timely with where we are with the social networking.
“… This just feels like what I should be doing right now. I love it.”
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