Is It Just Us, or Does This Boston Globe Story Look Familiar? (Updated With Response from the Globe)
Three weeks ago, Riptide published a story about the very drastic fall of former pro basketball player Rumeal Robinson. We used court documents filed in Miami-Dade court and a revealing interview with Robinson's brother, Donald Barrows, to show how a guy could end up virtually homeless and under indictment for financial crimes after a lucrative NBA career.
The short answer: strippers.
This Sunday, the Boston Globe published its own story about the extent of Robinson's decline. We knew Globe scribe Brian MacQuarrie was working on one, because he called three times asking for the location of the documents we used and for Barrows's phone number. Still, we were a bit surprised to find a virtual Xerox of our article reprinted in the Boston daily, with slight wording changes. But don't take our word for it: After the jump, judge for yourself.
From our October 9 story:
He made more than $5 million in NBA salary alone, but blew much of it on a strip club habit that would have made Pacman Jones blush. "He would go on binges of two whole weeks where he spent $20,000 a night at a strip club," Barrows says. "Not only that, but he'd also have a bunch of the strippers come back to his place, get buck-naked, and clean his house for $500 or $1,000 each."From the Globe's, um, remake:
But if he were the humble hero in Cambridge, Robinson transformed into something quite different in Atlanta. There, Robinson would spend up to $20,000 a night at a strip club where he had an unlimited account, Barrows said. Robinson also would pay the girls to clean his house in the nude, according to the brother.New Times:
In August 2006, Community State Bank filed suit and found Robinson had spent the money on clothing and jewelry at upscale boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Bodega, and the Royal Shop.He had bought steak dinners, plane tickets, and expensive hotel stays at a Jamaican Ritz-Carlton, the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and the Abbey Hotel in Miami Beach. He had blown nearly $800 on smokes at Coco Cigar in Coconut Grove, and even purchased a $10,000 M16 machine gun at Miami Police Supply in Little Havana... Robinson spent $1,500 of the business loan cash at Traffic Ticket Guy, a Deerfield Beach law firm.Globe:
In civil depositions taken by an attorney for Community State Bank in Iowa, which is suing to recover its loans, Robinson was questioned about his stockpile of BMW and Mercedes automobiles; $20,000 motorcycles; expensive trips to Las Vegas; four-figure golf outings; an M16 rifle; tens of thousands of dollars in suits, shoes, and jewelry; $1,500 to pay off traffic tickets; and even $800 for cigars.New Times:
But even in poverty, Robinson maintained VIP friends. [deposing attorney Gary] Lehman asked, "What are you going to do about dinner tonight?"Globe:
"The prime minister of the Cayman Islands is coming in, so maybe he'll pay," Robinson ruminated. "I don't know."
"How much money do you have in your pocket today, Mr. Robinson?'' asked Gary Lehman, an attorney for the bank.New Times:
"I have nothing in my pocket,'' Robinson answered.
"How much money do you have to your name?''
"I have none, no money.''
"What are you going to do about dinner tonight?''
I don't know. Prime minister of Cayman Islands came in, so maybe he'll pay. I don't know.''
Barrows, who lived in Miami until recently, recalls spending an evening with his brother in 2007: "He pulled up in a brand-new Mercedes SL500. He asked me if I had $20 for gas. He took me to seven or eight strip clubs, starting with Tootsie's. He would buy a Coke and nurse it for an hour or two, and I didn't see him give a dollar to the dancers."Globe:
Since New Times wasn't credited for the original reporting, the similarities have to be coincidental, right?
Despite his plea of poverty, Robinson retained some trappings of the high life. Barrows recalled that, when they met in Miami in 2007, Robinson picked him up in a gleaming white Mercedes SL500 roadster.
"Fifteen minutes into the ride, he turned and asked if I had $20 for gas,'' Barrows said. "I asked him, 'How can you drive this car,' but he assured me everything was going fine.''
That night, Barrows sensed the opposite. The pair visited several strip clubs, a favored pastime of Robinson's, but the veteran of the celebrity fast life nursed soft drinks for hours, the brother recalled.
"I didn't see him give any of the girls any money,'' Barrows said.
In a response this afternoon, Globe Metro editor Brian McGrory defended reporter Brian MacQuarrie, which made us feel sorry for the switchboard operator. "I'm not sure what your point is. The facts are contained in court records down there," the editor said. "The facts are similar, but the writing is completely different."