There are countless stories of famous NBA players who have gone broke and blown through their multi-million dollar contracts in short periods of time. In fact, it's almost hard to fathom how someone can spend that kind of money so quickly. With a few exceptions, these former pros are almost more famous now for wasting their fortunes than they ever as players in the best basketball league in the world.
From Scottie Pippen to Karl Anderson and Dennis Rodman, some pretty big stars had it and lost it all. But, is that the fate of everyone who makes big money in the NBA? Certainly not. While they're not as common, there are stories of former NBA pros who have done the opposite with their money. From players who didn't make millions but turned a modest athlete's salary into a mountain of cash to players who made tons but spent it wisely, there are success stories everywhere. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Junior Bridgeman and others are making more money now than they ever did as a pro.
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Call it having a good mentor or call it simply not screwing up your own life, these success stories are an example for many athletes making huge money today. LeBron James is set to become the highest paid player in NBA history, but he's got his hands in all sorts of business ventures proving that money isn't necessarily going to waste. There needs to be more LeBron's and less Allen Iverson's.
Here are 20 former NBA players who've done incredible things with there money. 10 of them were hugely successful and 10 of them are now more broke than the average 9-5'er.
20 Worth Peanuts: Allen Iverson
We'll start this list with a player who technically isn't broke, but only because one of his sponsorship deals basically saved his bacon. If not for Reebok putting away $32 million in a trust account that Iverson could access in the year 2030, he would have nothing but a small salary from Reebok and an NBA pension that starts when he hits 45 years old.
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Iverson earned some $200 million over the course of his NBA playing career. But, he allegedly traveled with a huge entourage, showered them with cars, jewelry, houses and expensive vacations and didn't save a penny. He was also known to keep garbage bags full of money around his mansion which would just mysteriously go missing. Once he couldn't find his parked car at the airport so instead of looking, simply bought a new one.
19 Worth Millions: Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman
Worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $400 million, Junior Bridgeman accomplished far more as a business owner than he ever did as a professional basketball player in the NBA. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, traded a few times and the most he ever made was $350,000 playing for the Clippers. During the offseason, he would work in a Wendy's restaurant to learn the ropes and by the time he was retired, he owned three restaurants to himself.
Today, Bridgeman has turned those three restaurants into over 160 Wendy's locations and over 120 Chilli's restaurants. He is the true definition of how someone who didn't make $100 million over his NBA career can still turn something into a lot more. There are plenty of current players who should take a page out of his playbook.
18 Worth Peanuts: Derrick Coleman
Sometimes it's a bit easier to feel bad for people who make bad choices. In a way, Derrick Coleman is one of those people. His heart was often in the right place but things turned sour quickly thanks to extremely bad investments in real estate.
Coleman made close to $87 million throughout his NBA career but ended up owing more than $4.7 million to creditors on bad real estate deals in Detroit where he was trying hard to turn a poor economy around and create jobs during a recession. The market crashed and so did Coleman's efforts and financial standing. Coleman does have to take some responsibility for his spending habits however. It was speculated he had a huge habit of buying hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Rolex watches.
17 Worth Millions: George Tinsley
Another man to successfully get into the restaurant business, NBA draftee but ABA player, George Tinsley retired and took a job as a training director for KFC. He was hooked on the franchising model and opened his own KFC locations. When all was said and done, he'd started The Tinsley Family of companies and now operates more than 60 units at street and airport locations. In his portfolio are Chili's, Wendy's, KFC, Pei Wei, P.F. Chang's, Shula's Bar & Grill, Cigar City Brewing, and Comfy Cow. He's made a huge amount of money opening these locations in airports.
It's hard to find a number of what Tinsley is currently worth but we know it's in the millions. He's a combination of good timing and a good mind to see an opportunity and jump on it.
16 Worth Peanuts: Eddy Curry
There's broke and then there's stupid broke. Eddy Curry epitomizes both of those things. The former NBA star made around $60 million playing for the Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. Curry's problem was that he trusted the wrong person to look after his finances, spent way too much money on things he didn't need or keep track of and took out loans with astronomical interest rates.
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When you borrow money at an 85% kick, you know you need a lesson in financial responsibility. He had some money buried into a 401K but not nearly enough to make him whole or cover his lavish lifestyle. Just to add insult to injury, he's was charged with harassment, tied up and robbed and lost his nine-month-old daughter in a span of a few years.
15 Worth Millions: Vinnie Johnson
A former Detroit Pistons player, Vinnie Johnson has made his fortune in Detroit with a company called the Piston Group. He founded a business called Pistons Automotive and grew the company into a juggernaut which recently acquired Irvin Automotive Products for a reported $175 million. His stable of companies now employs 8,300 people and is expected to produce revenues in excess of $2.6 billion in 2018.
This is an incredible amount of money and Vinnie Johnson and he sort of stumbled into things after trying two other business first that didn't go so well. A meeting with someone out of General Motors got the ball rolling and he hasn't looked back since. He got some support, took advantage of a couple opportunities and made a fortune.
14 Worth Peanuts: Jason Caffey
Despite making over $35 million throughout his playing career, the story of Jason Caffey is just a sad one. Not only did his going broke affect himself but he's got some 10 children with multiple women and his inability or unwillingness to be responsible is affecting them as well.
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Jason Caffey had children with eight different women and he was arrested in 2007 after failing to pay child support to one of the women. In one case he simply didn't show up to court and the judge added around $17K in legal fees to his invoice. It's estimated he owes more than $100K in child support payments.
13 Worth Millions: Magic Johnson
Magic Johnson was one of the best big-man point guards the NBA has ever seen. He was a huge star and would have retired extremely wealthy, even if only living off his NBA earnings. But for Johnson, he was just getting started making money. He's now one of the most successful former basketball players in the world.
When he first retired he made shopping centers and movie theatres in cities that didn't have them. From there, he got into building Starbucks locations where there were more people than coffee spots. Both ideas were wildly successful and today, he runs Magic Johnson Enterprises which includes owning a piece of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hero Ventures, Vibe Holdings and other companies. He's a very vocal entrepreneur who has gained a lot of respect for being extremely smart with his money.
12 Worth Peanuts: Antoine Walker
We may not understand it as regular Joe's but for an athlete to spend $10 million and not have much to show for it isn't all that rare. But, that's not the same as spending $110 million and not having anything to show for it. This is what Antoine Walker did.
While he owned a nice fleet of cars (which most will tell you almost always depreciate in value) Walker was far too generous with his millions. He supported over 70 friends with allowances. They all took advantage of it and never paid him back. Then, he got himself into legal trouble when he started writing fraudulent checks to casinos to unethically work through a gambling habit. On May of 2010, he filed for bankruptcy claiming $4.3 million in assets and $12.7 million in debt. It took him until 2013 to announce he was debt free.
11 Worth Millions: Shaquille O'Neal
He was a dominant NBA big man who made a bundle on the court and then proceeded to make a bundle off the court as well. He's no longer a player but his personality still shines as a panelist for NBA broadcasts. You can see him weekly making jokes and offering his opinion on everything basketball related.
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His off the court success included (and still does) endorsements, acting gigs and entrepreneurship. In 2015 he sold the rights to his brand Authentic Brands Group and made a penny considering it was one of the biggest brand management companies in the world. He became part owner of the Sacramento Kings in 2013 and purchases an Atlanta-based Krispy Kreme Doughnuts location. His net worth is estimated to be somewhere around the $400 million range. You'll be able to catch him in a new movie starring Kyrie Irving called Uncle Drew this year.
10 Worth Peanuts: Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen was arguably one of the best players in basketball during his generation. The only reason he didn't get more recognition was that he played beside a guy named Michael Jordan. So, to know Pippen made around $120 million over his career is not shocking. What is shocking is how he lost it.
Known for being incredibly cheap (No-Tippin' Pippen), it's ironic to learn that irresponsible and lackluster financial decisions were his downfall. He bought a $4 million jet that didn't even work and had to spend $1 million to repair it, he made terrible investment choices. In his defense, he did get screwed over by a fraudulent financial adviser who stole about $20 million. Unfortunately, Pippen's reputation outside the game has overshadowed much of what he accomplished in it.
9 Worth Millions: Dave Bing
Six years after Dave Bing's playing career in the NBA came to a close, he got to work creating and profiting big time off a company called Bing Steel. The company supplied steel to General Motors (GM) and grew into a multi-million dollar Detroit-based giant. Needless to say, his earnings as a business owner easily exceeded his earnings in basketball.
He sold Bing Steel in 2009 and made a fortune when he did so. Then, ironically, he took a lower-paying job as Mayor of Detroit which paid just over $150K per year. For many of those years he donated his salary to charity. Bing played in the NBA until 1978 and by 1985, his company had grown to over 60 employees and had annual revenues estimated at $40 million.
8 Worth Peanuts: Latrell Sprewell
If there are two things Latrell Sprewell will be remembered for in basketball, it's first for choking his head coach, P.J. Carlesimo. It was a move that saw him get suspended for 68 games. Second, like an idiot, he turned down a three-year, $21 million contract extension saying that he had "a family to feed." The writing was on the wall that Sprewell was going to have financial issues.
Not only did he never play again in the NBA after turning down the contract, his house was foreclosed, he was forced to sell his $1.5 million yachts for less than half of its worth and he failed to make mortgage payments on his property. Despite turning down a huge contract, this is a player who made close to $96 million throughout his career. Imagine what damage he could have done had he accepted the deal worth the extra $21 million.
7 Worth Millions: Jamal Mashburn
Jamal Mashburn, who played for three NBA teams, now owns five car dealerships and more than 80 franchise locations that cover a number of different businesses. He's got his hands in 40 Papa Johns locations, 39 Outback Steakhouses, and four Dunkin' Donuts. That's just the latest information we could find. By now, he's probably opened more.
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In 2014, Mashburn also launched a marketing firm he calls Mashburn Sackett. It has two locations and serves smaller companies that see a bigger dent when Internet changes affect business. Its focus is viral marketing, social media and production for web and digital platforms. Mashburn was an excellent basketball player but he seems to have found his groove in business. He never actually looked at basketball as his ticket but knew he needed a challenge and a fallback plan.
6 Worth Peanuts: Shawn Kemp
Another former NBA player who couldn't sort out his fatherly obligations, Shawn Kemp had seven children with six women and between the support payments and his substance habit, he was able to blow through more than $100 million in playing and endorsement money.
When his weight and addiction issues caught up with him in 2000, his basketball game declined rapidly despite being a dominant player for six seasons prior. He entered rehab his first year with the Portland Trail Blazers but decline to continue and eventually called it quits. Shortly after his career ended, he was arrested and kept busy paying court and legal fees for years. The child support payments did it in for him though. Kemp was a perfect example of how things can go from bad to worse in a very short period of time.
5 Worth Millions: Hakeem Olajuwon
Obviously, Hakeem Olajuwon was a heck of a basketball player. But, people are starting to learn that he offered more than just jump shots, rebounds, and points for the Houston Rockets. Now, he's proven he can be smart at real estate and he's getting into the franchising business.
Since leaving the NBA, Olajuwon has successfully sold more than $100 million in property across the Houston area. In January of 2017, he opened a Red Mango franchise which marked his first plunge into the restaurant business. While he made a fortune playing basketball, those close to him are suggesting his business ventures will reap far more reward than his playing days ever did. He's also been known to work one-on-one with a number of current professionals, charging a hefty fee for his services.
4 Worth Peanuts: Dennis Rodman
In most cases, this list is full of former NBA players who went broke and fans didn't know about it until after the news came out. Not the case with former bad-boy Dennis Rodman. The world got a front-row seat to his fall from grace and he was about the most vocal and spotlighted failure in NBA history.
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He made some $20 million in salary over his NBA career and he blew it on gambling, women, partying and toys that he didn't need. In 2014, Rodman filed a document to the court claiming he was broke and unable to pay his child support payments. At the time, it was a whopping $808.39. He's been married and been through a number of public divorces, gotten into pro wrestling and had all sorts of legal trouble. There was even a rumour that Donald Trump sent him to North Korea to negotiate the release of several American prisoners thanks to his connection with Kim Jong-Un.
3 Worth Millions: Chris Webber
Chris Webber made more than $176 million playing basketball in the NBA. He was also famous long before joining the pros as part of the Fab Five in Michigan. Branding himself and his personality throughout his basketball career was not a problem. What he did with the money he made would be his next challenge.
Perhaps doing something smarter than 99% of the rest of the league, Webber bought an investment company. The company has its hands in real estate, basketball, and football and is doing well. Perhaps more impressive is just how much he's turned his basketball personality into a profit after his playing days ended. He is currently an announcer for TNT and is NBA broadcasts. That's not a low-paying gig. Just for fun, he also released a rap album, the proceeds of which he donated to charities. If he can afford to do that, he's probably doing ok.
2 Worth Peanuts: Vin Baker
Vin Baker is starting to turn things around now but after retiring from the game of basketball, he was hit hard with a lot of bad in a short period of time. His 13-year NBA career came to an end in 2006 and poor investments and tax troubles cost him over $97 million in career earnings. He was forced to pay over $1 million in back taxes and sued his financial advisers for not looking after his affairs. The lawsuit was likely a smokescreen for bad choices and alcohol problems.
In 2007, he was arrested on a DUI related charge and in 2008, his home was foreclosed on. Perhaps that was the wakeup call he needed. He got a job managing a Starbucks in 2015 and more recently he has landed a job with Fox Sports as a basketball analyst and was an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.
1 Worth Millions: Michael Jordan
Hands down, Michael Jordan is the former NBA athlete who has done the best for himself since retirement. In fact, he's arguably richer than any athlete in the universe. With a net worth of more than $1 billion, he's made some smart decisions.
It starts with his Nike shoe line which is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. From there, Jordan invested into a number of businesses and became a part owner of the Charlotte Hornets. He's still making millions in endorsement deals and his brand is perhaps the most famous in all of sport. There are some people on this list who have done extremely well but none of them hold a candle to Jordan. It reminds us a lot of his playing career. He was and is the best there ever will be.
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