All people struggle with money at some point in life, no matter how rich they are, but with top level athletes there is a tendency to struggle more than most, with some burning through their money at a rapid rate. The NBA has one of the worst track records of any sport when it comes to this, with countless examples of former NBA stars that have struggled with the riches that the sport provided only for them to wind up filing for bankruptcy after spending time enjoying the high life.
Because of the fame and glory that comes with being thrust into the limelight and earning a celebrity status, many athletes find themselves picking up bad spending habits or becoming addicted to things such as drugs or gambling. Many NBA stars have lost literally everything they ever had because they burnt through their money so quickly, yet, on the other hand, some athletes have seen these mistakes and are more cautious, with some taking it to the other extreme of pinching every single penny they have.
Those people can be just as bad, looking after their money in an over the top manner which stops them from enjoying certain things in life or sees them not giving money in situations where a normal person would, such as tipping.
This article will look at 10 examples of NBA stars who have burnt through their riches and five that are incredibly tight.
15 Burned Money: Latrell Sprewell
You would think any man who is financially confident enough to turn down a three-year $21 million contract extension wouldn't find himself in major debt, but that is what happened to Latrell Sprewell who burned through the $96 million he made during his NBA career.
After declining the contract from the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sprewell didn't play NBA again and found himself in financial trouble that ended with his house almost being foreclosed as he owed nearly $300,000. His £1.5 million yacht also had to be sold, but for half the price as that's all he could get for it, Sprewell spent too much time spending his money, not thinking about where it was going until it was far too late.
14 Burned Money: Charles Barkley
He might have eventually found a good gig with TNT that helped him pay the bills and stay afloat, but Charles Barkley found life after NBA incredibly difficult, blowing a vast majority of the money he made throughout his career. How did Barkley burn through his money? Gambling. Something that a lot of former athletes, not just NBA related have problems steering away from, but Barkley became addicted to spending money on gambling.
Thankfully for him, he recognized the problem and even admitted his issues to it, claiming he once lost $10 million just through gambling alone, so clearly he wasn't anywhere near as successful at the slots as he was on the court. At least he still has a high paying job as a broadcaster, but hopefully he has a learned to restrain himself.
13 Pinch Pennies: Kahwi Leonard
With around $94 million in the bank, most people would go on a spending spree, shopping until they drop. But that isn't the case for Kahwi Leonard who has managed to stay incredibly grounded throughout his career.
Leonard isn't interested in throwing away millions on an expensive car, and instead still drives the same vehicle he did when he was a teenager, which he is fine with as 'it runs and it's paid off.' The NBA star was distraught when he lost a coupon book for food, showing exactly how grounded he still is. He even went to the lengths of ringing the company and getting a new book sent to him, despite having all that money sat in the bank, this might be going a little too far.
12 Burned Money: Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen could find himself on either side of this list as he is also well known for being incredibly cheap and not tipping waiters, but on the other hand, he has burnt through so much money it's hard to deny him his place on this section of the article.
Pippen made an incredible amount of money during his NBA career but still managed to burn his way through it with ridiculous purchases like spending $4 million on a private jet... that didn't work, only to spend another whopping $1 million to fix it. He did try to make some smarter decisions with his money in terms of investment, but they weren't sensible choices either as they all fell through, so it should be no surprise that he is now a little tight when it comes to splashing the cash.
11 Burned Money: Lamar Odom
Being married to a Kardashian is likely going to create some bad spending habits within a person, and that is exactly what happened to Lamar Odom, who has managed to burn through the cash he earned in the NBA.
Despite having an incredible career, Odom has picked up bad spending habits and is often splashing the cash around, and was even found unconscious in a Nevada brothel following the divorce to Khloe Kardashian, highlighting the type of things he would spend his money on. TMZ claimed that the former NBA star was being kept alive by machines following the incident, which was helping him breathe, a tragic fall from grace for one of the all-time greats.
10 Pinch Pennies: LeBron James
It's fair to say that LeBron James is one of the biggest names that NBA has ever produced, which is why he is worth nearly $300 million, yet he is incredibly frugal with his money, despite his wealth. James doesn't like to splash too much cash, which is all good and well, but the fact that he has recently been taking some heat from his teammates who are having to suffer through the commercials on his Pandora account should show you the lengths he will go to.
That's right, James is happy to be the team DJ, playing the pre-game songs, but won't pay the price to upgrade his account, using the free version of Pandora despite how rich he is, which is really putting pinching pennies to another level. He never buys apps or uses data roaming, and even bikes to the stadium sometimes.
9 Burned Money: Allen Iverson
Burning through $200 million takes a pretty good effort, but somehow Allen Iverson managed to achieve that feat and is now totally broke, a major waste as Iverson didn't exactly invest the money sensibly.
The former NBA star earned an incredible amount but was always known for his anger issues both on and off the court and spent four months in prison prior to his career starting, something that won't shock many who saw him play. Iverson supported around 50 friend and family which is a good idea, as long as you can afford it. He is also banned from casinos in both Detriot and Atlantic City, so it's clear that not all of his money was spent being kind to those close to him.
8 Burned Money: Vin Baker
The four-time All-Star is sadly no longer as rich and famous as he was during the peak of his NBA career after several bad investments and addictions led to him losing the majority of his wealth. Vin Baker lost his 10,000 square-foot Connecticut home to foreclosure due to his financial situation, his investment of a restaurant (Vinnie's Saybrook Fish House) was also lost as he continued to struggle.
Baker sadly lost his wealth through years of gambling and alcoholism, two very expensive things when they become habits, which is exactly what they became for Baker, and in the end, they cost him. He works as a manager in a Starbucks.
7 Pinch Pennies: Andre Roberson
Tipping is something that is universally expected, with a gratuity rate of 15-20% being the general norm in America, whether you are rich and famous or just an ordinary person, these are the rates.
However, when you are a known athlete with a little more wealth than most people, perhaps the waiters might be hoping for a little extra, but that isn't always the case, and nor should it be. But when you only tip 3% on a $500 bill, it is going to a totally new extreme. That is what TMZ reported about Andre Roberson, claiming the NBA star tipped less than $15 on a bill that large, proving he must be counting his pennies to be so tight.
6 Burned Money: Derrick Coleman
Putting some of your riches into real estate seems like a smart idea, a chance to increase your profit and learn another job, a win-win situation? That is exactly what Derrick Coleman did, only things didn't quite work out for him.
After earning around $87 million during his career, Coleman wound up owing creditors $4.7 million. Sadly for Coleman, while real estate was a smart idea, he invested in a series of investments into Detroit. Detroit was a city hit very hard by the recession and that meant the investments didn't work out for him, so while he didn't burn his money on useless things (apart from his collection of Rolexes), it did get burned regardless.
5 Burned Money: Larry Johnson
Despite having an incredible career and legacy in NBA that allowed him to be one of the sports biggest ever stars, Larry Johnson still managed to burn through a large majority of his money. While people on this list spent a lot of their money on clothes, cars, houses and other material things, something Johnson did do, a lot of Johnson's money was lost through child support payments that he owed to the mother of his child.
Johnson was dragged through a messy court case that left him filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, giving up his million dollar California home in a big to settle the suit outside of court, before things got even worse.
4 Pinch Pennies: Michael Carter-Williams
While Michael Carter-Williams is still in the earlier years of his career and has plenty of time to fall into the category of burning his money, the way that he set himself up is someone who wants to ensure his financial future is secure.
All the money that Williams earned his the first two-years of his career, an impressive figure just shy of $5 million was placed straight into a trust fund that was set up by his family, a smart idea to save for a rainy day, something that NBA stars tend to have plenty of after retirement, as this article proves. Whether Williams carries on in that way of being sensible and looking after his money remains to be seen, but hopefully, he has seen the horror stories of former players and those sensible early decisions with money continue.
3 Burned Money: Jason Caffey
Jason Caffey didn't actually burn all of his money on things such as cars and expensive clothes like others on this list, though some of it likely went on items such as that, it would be child support that crippled him.
Having 10 children with eight different women is probably not the wisest move and is always going to be difficult to keep track of, something that eventually caught up with the former NBA star who was actually arrested for failure to pay the necessary child support. The $35 million for the former Bulls player made was eventually all dried up and Caffey wound up filing for bankruptcy after blowing through his NBA earnings.
2 Burned Money: Antoine Walker
Earning a sweet profit of $110 million during career, it's fair to say Antoine Walker made plenty of money during his time in NBA, becoming a millionaire and enjoying his life to the fullest. The only problem with that is while $110 million isn't a figure to be laughed at, Walker lived his life as if he had much more money, acting like a billionaire rather than an NBA player.
Never wearing the same designer suit twice, Walker quickly burnt through his money and reportedly bought more than 140 different properties, hoping for an investment, instead, he had to file for bankruptcy. Nowadays, Walker teaches younger NBA players about financial responsibility, to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again, so at least he has learned his lesson.
1 Pinch Pennies: Michael Jordan
That's right, one of the richest athletes in history is also incredibly cautious with his money, which is how they say that the rich stay rich. Michael Jordan, one of the NBA's greatest ever stars earned an incredible amount throughout his career.
Yet he isn't keen to spend lots of it, which might be a good thing to some people, but it seems the way in which he saves a few dollars here and there are not the greatest, usually at the expense of others. Jordan is known for being an incredibly tight tipper, sometimes not even providing any money for those that serve him and his old-rival Charles Barkley has claimed that he never gives money to charity either, though that could be just a cheap jab.