Buyer Beware

Lenny Cooke thought he would have it all. Now he wonders what's left.

Updated: September 30, 2003, 3:18 PM ET
By Tom Farrey | ESPN The Magazine
The Brooklyn Kings of the USBL play their home games in a reconfigured, early 20th-century theater on Long Island University's west campus. Rising high and tight behind each end of the court, elegant wall designs and ornate statues hearken back to a time when silent movies packed them in. This is still a place for quiet entertainment -- at least when the Kings are the feature. As Lenny Cooke joins their warmup on this sleepy Sunday in May, gliding onto the floor from an aisle that reaches to a basement locker room, no more than a dozen fans sit in the makeshift bleachers.

Being a Brooklyn King is hardly what this former king of Brooklyn imagined for himself. A year earlier, across the street on the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb, the high school senior held a news conference at Junior's Restaurant to announce he was entering the NBA draft. He had Junior's bake a cake, with his number, 23, like MJ, scrawled on top in orange frosting. Elton Brand, Baron Davis and MTV's DJ Clue were there, as was Cooke's agent. Cooke's son, Anahijae, then 2, sat on Daddy's lap, irritated by all the photo flashes.


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