Handling millions of dollars in assets is one thing. Guarding Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player in history, is quite another.
Jim Les, a rep at Sutro & Co. in Sacramento, Calif., played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1986 to 1995, primarily with the Sacramento Kings, and he often drew the assignment of trying to stop Mr. Unstoppable.
"Guarding Michael Jordan was so difficult that I used to say to myself, `Please, just make it so I don't embarrass myself too much,'" Les remembers.
Les was such a feisty, intense player that he hounded Jordan for as long as he could while he was out on the floor. But in the end, it didn't matter who guarded Jordan because he would burn them.
Burn them good.
Les' burn marks have worn off, and he's still deeply involved in basketball. He is an assistant coach for the Sacramento Monarchs of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA). Because of his business responsibilities, he doesn't travel with the Monarchs, but he's at every home game and all home practices.
Les is a classic overachiever who made it to the NBA through heart and desire. After leading Bradley University to a 32-3 record and to the NCAA Tournament in 1986, Les was selected in the third round of the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks.
Tenth on the NCAA's all-time assist list with 884, Les bounced around from the Philadelphia 76ers to the Utah Jazz and then the Los Angeles Clippers before joining the Kings in 1990. He spent four seasons in Sacramento, where he emerged as a fan and team favorite because of his work ethic, court savvy and ability to hit three-point shots.
"I was a guy who got the most out of his ability," says Les, who ranks second in Kings history in three-point shooting with a 41.6 percentage. "I was not the biggest guy, the strongest guy or the fastest guy, but I used some of the talent and ability I was given and maxed them out.
"Growing up, I never set a goal of playing in the NBA. I just wanted to be the best player I could be," Les says. "Wherever it took me, that's what I'd be happy with. Fortunately, I got to the highest level. I have great memories of playing with some of the greatest athletes in the world. I was also able to put away enough money and make wise investments."
"Basketball made it all happen for me," he adds.
Today, Les' shooting ability and overall basketball knowledge is a tremendous asset to the Monarchs, one of the WNBA's top teams. According to head coach Sonny Allen, Les "has a tremendous basketball mind."
Moreover, Monarchs players marvel over Les' ability to shoot. As one player says, "He can still shoot the lights out."