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A generation ago, the only financial goal for a superstar African-American athlete at the peak of his career — beyond a large contract — was to nab a lucrative endorsement deal with a big sneaker company like Nike or a national brand such as McDonald’s. The idea was to earn several million extra dollars before his skills began to wane. Those short-term goals remain, but today, many in the National Basketball Association or the National Football League want something more substantial — like a long-term piece of the action. “In my marketplace, everybody wants to be on television, everybody wants endorsements. To me, that’s superficial because it’s temporary,” said Bill Duffy, president of BDA Sports Management, the firm that represents NBA superstars like Chinese center Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets and Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets. He cited pro football’s dancing wide receiver Icky Woods and bulked-up William “The Refrigerator” Perry as examples of stars that cashed in with a quick payday in the 1980s, and then disappeared from the scene.

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