Basketball careers are short in comparison to the rest of the occupations in professional sports. Small roster sizes mean there are a limited amount of opportunities, and that makes it difficult for players on the fringe to continue once they have left their prime. Many players are forced to live with the reality that they are no longer earning multi-million dollar salaries and must rejoin the traditional workforce like the rest of us. In other situations, they are able to parlay their on-court earnings into successful business investments away from the sport.
The current occupations of former NBA superstars range from the ordinary, like truck driving, to the extraordinary, such as leading international charities and serving as mayor of major American cities. Some have sought continued basketball success by lengthening their careers overseas, in search of more championships and paychecks. Many former NBA players have very public struggles with finances, but others enjoy the financial security that a career in the NBA has given them.
Many athletes struggle to make the transition from superstar to average Joe once their careers in professional sports have ended. However, there are always cases of superstars adapting well to life away from sport, which allows them to enjoy their private lives without the everyday scrutiny of the media. Now that they have spent some time away from the watchful eyes of ESPN and Fox Sports, here is what fifteen former NBA stars are up to these days.
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15 Kevin Johnson
Having spent over a decade in the NBA, Kevin Johnson retired in 2000 after leading the Phoenix Suns to their first playoff series victory in five years. However, he decided not to shy away from leading a public life and now has a flourishing political career. During his NBA career, he established the Kevin Johnson Foundation and the St. HOPE program which began as an after school program and has expanded to a nationwide charity. After beginning these successful charities, he decided to try his hand at politics.
In 2008, Johnson announced that he would be running for the position of Mayor in Sacramento, California. After receiving the majority of votes in the election, he was finally elected in a runoff against the incumbent mayor. He was later re-elected in 2012 and has used his mayoral powers to improve a failing public school system, fight against homelessness, and revitalize the Sacramento downtown area. Despite his success, he may not even be the most successful political operator in his family. In 2011, Johnson married Michelle Rhee, the founder of StudentsFirst and former chancellor of the Washington DC Public School System.
14 Allen Iverson
After retiring from the NBA in 2010, Allen Iverson spent a short, unsuccessful season with Turkish club Besiktas before retiring from the sport. Since then, he has only had a few brief public appearances. Iverson has always been a player and person that refused to conform to the traditions of society or the NBA. In a divorce hearing he stated that he did not have enough money for a cheeseburger. Court documents and testimony from his ex-wife Tawanna describe him as an absent, alcoholic father.
He has discussed comeback attempts, but has a problem committing to training regiments. He has also struggled with finances, once overdrawing his bank account by nearly $30,000. However, prospects remain hopeful for the future because in 2030, he is set to collect $30 million from his endorsement deal with Reebok.
13 Dikembe Mutombo
Dikembe Mutombo is one of the most internationally recognizable NBA superstars, thanks in large part to his humanitarian efforts. He established the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation in order to improve health, education, and quality of life in his home country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He also established the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in 2007, naming the facility after his mother. He has been active in the fight against malaria and was recognized by President George W. Bush in the State of the Union Address for his humanitarian work. Mutmobo also recently appeared in a Geico advertisement where he once again displayed his shot blocking skills.
12 Patrick Ewing
Patrick Ewing is considered one of the best “big men” of all time, and he has since devoted his life to coaching. He notably coached Dwight Howard during his struggles and has become a full-time assistant coach with the Charlotte Bobcats. He even served as interim head coach while Steve Clifford recovered from heart surgery. He also capitalized on the throwback sneaker movement by re-launching his personal brand Ewing Athletics in 2012. Ewing also had a chance to coach his son during Patrick Junior’s stint in the NBA Developmental League.
11 Isiah Thomas
When Isiah Thomas retired as a player in 1994, he was one of the most controversial figures in the NBA. He continued this trend throughout his coaching and executive career, including unsuccessful stints with the Indiana Pacers, New York Knicks, and his latest stint with Florida International University. In 2006, he settled a sexual harassment suit with former Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders for $11.6 million. In 2008, he was admitted to a New York area hospital after accidently overdosing on the sleeping medication Lunesta. He now serves as a contributor to NBA.com and television personality for NBA TV.
10 Magic Johnson
After publically announcing that he was HIV positive in 1991 and retiring from the sport of basketball, Irving “Magic” Johnson has gone on to be one of the most successful athletes in the business world. He established Magic Johnson Enterprises in 1995, and it has grown into a $600 million empire that includes investments in Magic Johnson Cinemas, Burger King Franchises, and TGI Friday’s restaurants. In 2012, he joined a group that would purchase the Los Angeles Dodgers. Earlier this year, he was involved in a group that acquired the WNBA franchise the Los Angeles Sparks. He continues to appear on television as an occasional guest on NBA Countdown.
9 Scottie Pippen
Earlier this year, Scottie Pippen appeared in a Foot Locker ad where he joked that he is the greatest Chicago Bull of all time. It wasn’t his first foray into acting, as he has also appeared in an episode of the Cleveland Show, the movie He Got Game, and has had several appearances on reality television shows. His career as a reality TV star has included appearances on The Apprentice and a cameo at the Kanye West/Kim Kardashian wedding. He is also married to former Real Housewives of Miami star Larsa. Pippen was also involved in a lawsuit following an altercation at Los Angeles restaurant Nobu, but did not face criminal charges.
8 Karl Malone
Despite retiring from the NBA in 2004, the Mailman still delivers. Karl Malone has multiple successful investments including a ranch in Louisiana, where he harvests timber and often drives the timber truck on delivery runs. He also owns several car dealerships, restaurants, and three oil-change service stations. Last year, he was hired as a big-man coach by the Utah Jazz, making his return to the league only ten pounds heavier than when he retired. His work ethic continues in retirement by working out two hours a day. Malone is also the father of WNBA Champion Cheryl Ford.
7 Brad Daugherty
Following his career in the NBA, which ended in 1995, Brad Daugherty has gone on to become a versatile business owner. His investments include car dealerships, a waste management company, and successful commercial real estate investments. Earlier this year, he announced that he would be opening a casual-upscale restaurant in Asheville, North Carolina. Daugherty also is the co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, which owns and sponsors NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Truck Series teams. Daugherty also serves as a pundit for Inside NASCAR and NASCAR Now.
6 Stephon Marbury
Stephon Marbury has not played in an NBA game since 2009, but he continues his basketball career in the Chinese Basketball Association. Last season, he won his second CBA championship with the Beijing Ducks. Starbury became an internet sensation by eating Vaseline and displaying his daily life on JustinTV. His Starbury sneaker brand has thrived overseas in China, where he plans to open several retail stores. For North American fans of his brand, his shoes and apparel are available on Starbury.com.
5 Dan Majerle
After a fourteen season NBA career, Dan Majerle retired as one of the most beloved players in the history of the Phoenix Suns. During his career he opened a sports bar and restaurant named Majerle’s and now owns four restaurants in the Scottsdale area. Last year, he was named the head basketball coach of Grand Canyon University during their first season in NCAA Division 1. He led the team to a 15-15 record, but was bounced in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
4 Glen Rice
After retiring from the NBA in 2004 because of a devastating knee injury, Glen Rice has done his best to avoid the public spotlight. However, he was drawn back into the public eye when details emerged of his alleged one night stand with former Alaskan Governor and Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. The incident occurred while Rice was still in college at Michigan and Palin was a sports reporter for an Alaska TV network. Rice has recently been involved in promotion of several mixed-martial arts events in the Michigan area. His son Glen Jr. currently plays in the NBA with the Washington Wizards.
3 Mitch Richmond
Mitch Richmond retired from the NBA in 2002 and for over a decade, the player known as “The Rock” struggled to receive the validation he deserved for his prolific career. This summer, Richmond was inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, after a thirteen year waiting period. Richmond has remained active in the Sacramento community, fighting to keep the Kings in the city. He has also founded the charity RockLife, which is dedicated to raising awareness helping children struggling with bullying, fighting childhood obesity, and preventing teen suicide. He also recently joined the Sacramento Kings broadcast team.
2 Dennis Rodman
Dennis Rodman has led an interesting life since retiring from the NBA following the 1999-2000 season. Since then he has penned a biography, released a line of action figures, appeared on the Celebrity Apprentice, and appeared on Celebrity Rehab. His battle with drug and alcohol issues has been a public struggle since his playing days. Earlier this year, Rodman made headlines by participating in a basketball outreach trip to North Korea. It was Rodman’s second trip to the country, but could be his last, because he is under investigation by the US Department of the Treasury. Rodman may have violated American trade sanctions by giving thousands of dollars in gifts to Kim Jong Un. Perhaps foreign policy is not one of Rodman’s strengths.
1 Darko Milicic
Darko Milicic will always be remembered as the player the Detroit Pistons selected 2nd overall ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, and many others. Widely considered one of the biggest NBA Draft busts of all time, Milicic retired from the NBA after a short stint with the Boston Celtics in 2012. He has since returned to his native Serbia and decided to pursue a career in kickboxing. This alternative career could put Darko’s 7 foot, 275 pound physique to use, and he is just the latest in a string of professional athletes to make the jump to combat sports.
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