Can you even imagine what you’d do if you found yourself with $1 million in the bank? What about if you won a $100 million jackpot? What if you doubled that? While it may seem like a pipe dream, that’s the situation many NBA players find themselves in. The league is home to highest-paid professional athletes in all of sport. According to Business Insider, the average salary for a person on a team roster is nearly $6.4 million. And it’s not as if that number is inflated by a few big-money contracts doled out to the superstars of the Association, either; rookies cash in to the tune of an average of $4.7 million per year, a figure nearly 10 times the median annual household income in the United States. Needless to say, this kind of earning lends itself to grandiose spending and lavish lifestyles. Personal Capital, a digital wealth management company based in California, found that the average NBA player spends about $42,000 a month -- and most of that money doesn’t go anywhere near a savings account. And, as you’ll see in this list of 15 NBA players who love to live in excess, that kind of money can lead to people going a bit off the deep end.
Normally, you wouldn’t think of a role player being into lavish spending. But that’s the case for J.R. Smith, a guy who doesn’t even play third fiddle on his Cleveland Cavaliers team. Throughout his 13-year career, Smith has earned a cool $57 million dollars -- a number set to double by the time the four-year contract he signed last offseason expires. The 31-year-old shooting guard knows how to have fun with that money, too. Known as a big partier, in just the last year he’s been seen going shirtless to pour champagne on waitresses at a championship party and smoke a blunt on a South Beach balcony. He also goes a little crazy when it comes to jewelry. In 2013, a judge ordered him to pay nearly $50,000 to a jeweller for pieces he acquired including two Black Jesus pendants that set him back $15,000. But at least he kept things simple for the party he threw when his dog turned one year old.
Chris Herren played in the NBA from 1999 to 2006. Considering his amazing drug habits, it’s incredible he lasted that long. Even before setting foot in the the Association, Herren failed three drug tests for cocaine while attending Boston College and eventually enrolled in a treatment program after transferring to Fresno State. While in the pros, he took up a $250,000 per month oxycontin habit which got so bad he even once left an arena pre-game to pick up pills from his dealer in the parking lot. While playing in Italy, he moved from pills to heroin eventually leading him to become a “street junkie” from the ages of 28 to 34. Luckily, through rehab and prayer, he was able to kick his habits and now goes on speaking tours to share his experiences dealing with the horrors of drug abuse.
More than anyone else on this list, Joakim Noah just looks the part of a stoner. That’s why, when he was caught shopping in a head shop (where you go to buy bongs, pipes and other weed-smoking accessories) in 2010, no one was really surprised. At the time, he was away from the Bulls, dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis that kept him off the court for around a month. And it’s not like he was there by mistake: the store he was in was on a block on Chicago’s North Side affectionately known as “Head Shop Row.” The incident wasn’t an isolated one, either. He was charged with possession two years prior when police found marijuana in a cigarette case in his pocket.
For most people, Greg Oden is known as arguably the biggest draft bust in NBA history. Taken first overall in the 2007 draft by the Portland Trailblazers, Oden’s lackluster career looks even worse in retrospective because he was taken one spot ahead of perennial All Star and future Hall of Famer Kevin Durant. While most point to knees made out of spaghetti as the reason for his downfall, there’s also another, more sinister, reason he never lived up to his potential: alcohol. According to Oden, during his time with the Blazers he relied heavily on the sauce. After his cousin, a veteran from the Air Force, moved into his house during his second season, he began to drink heavily. He said, “My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I’d drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I’d drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic.’”
In every respect an undrafted success story, Chris “The Birdman” Andersen was the first player to ever be called up from the D-League when he made his NBA debut in 2001 with the Denver Nuggets. Today, he's best known as the eccentric, tattoo-clad role player who followed LeBron from Miami and Cleveland in his latter years, earning championship ring in the process. But that wasn't always the case; at the beginning of his career, it wasn't always smooth sailing. During the 2006 season Andersen tested positive for taking abusing drugs, allegedly amphetamines, and was banned for two seasons. Luckily, a month in a rehab clinic helped him get back on the straight and narrow, allowing for his later-season success.
It’s not often that one athlete catches heat from any league for taking two drastically different types of drugs. But that was the case with O.J. Mayo, a one-time USC standout who was taken third overall in the 2008 draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves. While the world seemed to be at his fingertips after being named NBA All-Rookie First Team in the 2009 season, things took a turn after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the 2011 season. After averaging 18.7 points per game as a rookie, his stats began to fall; he averaged only 7.8 points per game during his last full season in 2015. And just when you’d think it couldn’t get much worse, Mayo got caught for taking banned drugs again in 2016. Only this time, they weren’t performance enhancing but rather “drugs of abuse.” While the exact drug he took isn’t known, that umbrella term is used by the Association to refer to drugs including amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, opiates and PCP. He’ll be eligible to apply for reinstatement in 2018.
To some, Lamar Odom is best known as a reality star. His profile dramatically increased when, in 2009, he married Khloe Kardashian and began appearing on her reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Odom and his wife were even popular enough to garner their own show, Khloe and Lamar, which ran from 2011 until 2012. When you combined that success with on-the-court honours that include NBA All-Rookie First Team (2000), NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2011) and two NBA championships (2009 and 2010), it seemed like nothing could bring Odom's rising star down. But then, his drug habits came to light. There were reports of him spending $50,00 on cocaine over a three-year span and even smoking the stuff before tip off of a game. Things hit an apex when, in 2015, he was rushed to hospital after overdosing at a Nevada brothel. He hasn’t played in the NBA since 2014 and his divorce with Khloe was finalized in 2016.
Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) is a man who is much more widely known for his off-the-court antics than what he did on the floor. And that’s saying a lot because, to date, Peace has earned a championship ring, a Defensive Player of the Year award and an All-Star game appearance. Since starting his career with the Chicago Bulls in 1999, he’s gone on live television in his underwear, been pulled over for driving a go-cart that topped out at 152 miles per hour, and jumped into the stands during a game to fight fans. While that all sounds ridiculous, perhaps the most insane admission Peace has made about his playing days is that he used to drink Hennessy, a French cognac, during halftime of games during his first three years in the NBA. He said he’d grab a bottle at the liquor store and keep it in his locker. And somehow he was able to keep earning contracts for over a decade.
The NBA doesn’t test for marijuana in the offseason. And that’s a good thing for a lot of guys and even coaches (here’s looking at you, Steve Kerr) who like to partake. But while most players who smoke are happy to do it on the low, DeAndre Jordan sure decided it would be fun to go big with his habit. Just one year before famously ghosting Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban during free agency, the Los Angeles Clippers superstar was caught on camera smoking a joint at a coffeeshop in Amsterdam. While that alone doesn’t seem too out of control, when combined with the fact that he was photographed looking a little less than sober with marijuana superstar Wiz Khalifa, a man who famously went toe-to-toe with Snoop Dogg in a weed-smoking competition and came out alive, you know that this guy can hang.
Really, Steve Nash? While it may seem hard to believe that the two-time NBA MVP and clean-cut Canadian boy likes to partake in anything nefarious, he’s apparently quite the weed aficionado. According to one report, there was a time when Nash and some teammates were out at a Phoenix club celebrating Jason Richardson’s birthday. When he smelled marijuana in the air, he turned to someone at the party and asked if they had a bowl. When, naturally, they asked if he was serious about smoking, he answered: “I’m from Vancouver, bro.” And now, all of a sudden, it makes a lot more sense how he was able to come up with those dance moves in that video with Baron Davis.
Allen Iverson invented the modern-day sports rant when he threw out the word “practice” (as in, he doesn’t need any) 17 times in a single 2002 press conference. And while he didn’t invent the frivolous spending that characterizes today’s NBA, he sure as hell did perfect it. Before being named to the 2016 Hall of Fame class, Iverson earned a whopping $200 million during his 14-year career. And he spent all of it. During his playing days he was said to have spent around $10,000 on clothes, $10,000 on groceries and household items, $10,000 on entertainment and restaurants, and $1,000 on dry cleaning every month. Things didn’t seem to get much better after retirement, either. In 2012 he was sued for not being able to cover an $860,000 jewelry bill. In court documents, he listed his expenses at $360,000 despite only earning $75,000 annually from endorsements.
Most people know someone who’s had to deal with a DUI charge, but rarely someone who’s dealt with two. That’s because the penalties are so harsh, it’s more than likely that a person who made a one-time mistake wouldn’t being willing to chance it again. That’s what makes Sacramento Kings point guard Ty Lawson’s story so incredible. Not only was he stopped twice for driving under the influence, both arrests happened within a seven-month span. And those weren’t his first run-ins with the law sparked by his addiction to alcohol. In 2008, when he went to college at North Carolina, he was stopped by police for underage drinking. He’s also admitted to having received a third DUI charge in Missouri, though there is no official record of that.
How high would you have to be to not only admit to a cop that you were smoking weed while driving, but think that you were outsmarting them in the process. That's what Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire tried to pull in 2011, when driving home to Portland from Seattle with their friend, Edward L. Smith. After police stopped the car for speeding, they asked the trio whether or not they had been smoking. One by one, they admitted to having smoked a single joint but when the cops asked if they had any more marijuana, Wallace famously said they didn’t have anything on them because they “smoked it all up.” Unfortunately, a quick visit from drug-sniffing dogs proved that to be a lie. Stoudamire and Wallace were cited with misdemeanours for marijuana possession. This was an especially bad look for Stoudamire who had been caught with a large bag of marijuana at his home earlier that year.
It’s one thing to love smoking weed, it’s another to become a drug kingpin of sorts. But, alas, it's that second group that Memphis Grizzlies star Zach Randolph found himself in during the earlier stages of his career. In a span of two years beginning in 2010, Randolph twice caught the attention of police for incidents related to the distribution of marijuana. The first allegation came in 2010 when he arrested for allegedly taking part in selling pounds of weed across Indianapolis. While he ultimately avoided charges, it wasn’t a good look when police found friends driving his car to a storage space rented under his name with a cooler full of weed. Two years later, Randolph again barely missed out on charges when a man was beaten inside his home because, according to him, he was charging too much for green.
If there’s one type of person to contrast the kingpin, it’s the guy who just can’t kick the stuff. Despite countless studies about the banality of marijuana use and the fact that its legalization seems imminent in most places in the Western world, there are still people like Michael Beasley who can’t seem to stop puffing if their life depended on it. Beasley hadn’t even played a game in the NBA before getting caught with the marijuana. He was fined $50,000 by the league after being busted for possible possession after attending the 2008 Rookie Transition Program, which is meant to show young players how to stay out of trouble. One year later, he posted pictures of his back tattoos online in which marijuana was possibly visible. He was busted again for marijuana possession in 2011 and another time in 2013. Not exactly what you’d expect from a guy who almost beat out Derrick Rose to be drafted first overall in 2008.