For the upcoming 2015-16 season, the NBA average player will be making a cool $4,095,476. That really makes me regret those many hours I didn't spend learning how to play basketball.
The big problem with making that much scratch is the lifestyle inflation. When you're making a seven-figure salary, it's easy to afford everything and anything you could ever want. A $100,000 sports car? No problem. A giant house? Hey, go ahead and splurge. A posse of 14 of your friends to keep you company on the road? Whatever floats your boat. A mistress in each city? Go ahead, YOLO.
The problem is none of these guys think about the consequences when their careers are finally over. The average NBA career only lasts only 4.8 years, which means most NBA players need to cut down the spending to make the paychecks last for a retirement that can stretch 50 or 60 years. It's hard to do that when everyone around you is showering themselves with all the luxuries imaginable.
You can guess what happens. These guys blow through their career earnings as fast as they make them. Suddenly they're 35, washed up, and don't have any savings to fall back on.
It isn't just the average NBA player that ends up broke. Some of the biggest names in the history of the sport have ended up going from riches to rags once the money stops coming in. These guys blow through $50 million, even sometimes $100 million or more in career earnings.
Here are the top 15 NBA players who went from riches to rags.
14 Jason Caffey
Jason Caffey was a 6'8" power forward selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1995 draft. Shortly thereafter he won a couple of NBA titles, which admittedly isn't very hard when you have Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen leading the way.
He was then traded to Golden State, a team that was 14 agonizingly long years away from Steph Curry. Happy to have an actual NBA-caliber player on the roster, Golden State signed Caffey to a $35 million contract extension.
It all went downhill from there for Caffey. He had an anxiety attack in 2002 and got busted for assault in 2003.
He tried to file for bankruptcy in 2008 to get out of paying child support to the eight mothers of his ten children. The judge didn't accept it and he ended up doing time for failure to take care of his kids.
13 Dennis Rodman
It's been a long way down for the former rebounding specialist for the Chicago Bulls and short-lived husband of Carmen Electra. Seriously, Dennis, how'd you pull that off?
As of March 1st, 2012, Rodman owed $808,935 in back child support for his two children he had with his third wife. He also owed more than $50,000 in spousal support. Rodman's lawyers acknowledged he owed the cash, but said he's "broke" and "extremely sick" and is therefore unable to pay. No word on whether Dennis asked his buddy Kim Jong-un for a loan, but somehow I doubt it.
Dennis has also struggled with a drinking problem for years, and never was one of the higher paid players of his day due to his notorious issues off the court.
12 Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley had a Hall of Fame career in the NBA, spending parts of 16 seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, and Houston Rockets. He made an estimated $40 million during his playing days.
He also had a wee bit of a gambling problem. Barkley estimates he lost $10 million gambling over the years, a problem he's fixed by gambling "in moderation." For example, instead of playing until he's down $1 million, he's stop at $200,000. Charles and I have very different definitions of moderation.
Charles is pretty lucky he got that sweet gig on TNT or else he'd have to fall back on exploiting his terrible golf swing for money, somehow.
11 Kenny Anderson
Kenny Anderson has had an interesting life since retiring from his 14-year NBA career.
Anderson was well known for his car collection, owning a Porsche Carrera, a Lexus, a Mercedes, and a customized Range Rover, among others. He also spent up to $250,000 per year to subsidize Kenny The Kid Enterprises, a company that employed five people to create a clothing line. As you'd expect, that never really worked out.
Anderson eventually filed for bankruptcy, with most of his debts being for child support. Anderson has seven kids with five different women.
He graduated from college in 2010 and secured a job coaching for a Jewish high school in Florida in 2010. That lasted just a couple of years before he was let go for a DUI arrest.
10 Larry Johnson
Like many of the other players on this list, Larry Johnson probably should have looked at spending a few hundred of his many millions of dollars on condoms.
Johnson has five children with four different women, and recently declared bankruptcy largely because of his massive child support obligations.
Here's where the story gets interesting. According to one baby mama, Larry isn't bankrupt at all. She says he has $26 million stashed away in a secret trust account and the bankruptcy is just a ruse to make the child support go away.
9 Vin Baker
Vin Baker had a solid NBA career, earning almost $100 million while playing for six teams over 13 different seasons. Retirement hasn't been kind to the former all-star.
He battled alcoholism for years. He was part-owner of a restaurant that went out of business. He lost his $3 million home to foreclosure in Connecticut back in 2008. He was even forced to auction off his gold medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
These days, Baker has started over. He's currently training to manage a Starbucks in Rhode Island as well as being active in his father's church.
8 Rick Mahorn
Rick Mahorn is fondly remembered as one of the greatest athletes in the history of the city of Detroit. He played a crucial role in helping the Bad Boy Pistons of 1989 win the city's first NBA championship. After his career finished in 1999, he was brought back as a color analyst for the team.
Unfortunately, Mahorn's investments in Detroit didn't go as well as his playing career did. He made several investments in real estate in Motown that didn't work out so well and, in 2010, he was forced to file for bankruptcy.
7 Robert Swift
Robert Swift was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Supersonics in 2004. His career didn't last long, as he was forced to retire in 2008 after tearing his ACL. Even during his short career, he managed to accumulate more than $11 million in career earnings and that's before any endorsements.
Swift blew his cash on the regular things. He bought a $1.4 million house. He got himself and his parents luxury SUVs. He partied hard and spent thousands on tattoos.
He ended up getting forcibly evicted from his home in 2013, leaving behind guns, live ammo, broken-down cars in the driveway, and just generally a big mess. He was last heard to be living with his parents and was arrested earlier this year.
Hey, at least he didn't have 14 kids with 12 different women.
6 Eddy Curry
Over a 12-year career with the Bulls, Knicks, Heat, and Mavericks, Eddy Curry made more than $70 million. The only thing he did better than basketball was spending money.
Starting in 2009, Curry lost everything. His house went into foreclosure. Creditors seized his Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, and a Phantom convertible. Curry also reportedly spent $6,000 per month on a personal chef, $650 per month on cable, and $30,000 per month in other household expenses.
Curry was so desperate for money, that he allegedly borrowed an unreported sum for five months that carried an 85% interest rate, a rate that's only legal in Las Vegas. Not surprisingly, he didn't pay back that debt either.
6. Latrell Sprewell
Latrell Sprewell is best-known for two things. He choked Golden State coach P.J. Carlesimo -- leading to a 68-game suspension -- and he turned down a three-year deal from the Minnesota Timberwolves worth $27 million, implying that such a low amount wouldn't be enough to feed his apparently very hungry children.
After retirement, Sprewell had some fun times on his yacht, christened Milwaukee's Best. He was investigated for reportedly choking a 21-year old female during (consensual) sex while on the yacht. He also managed to run it aground near Milwaukee and refused to pay a salvage company to remove it.
In 2008, he lost the yacht to foreclosure and in 2009 he also faced foreclosure of a house he owned in Westchester, New York. These days, Sprewell lives a little more modestly, reportedly in a very average rental property.
5 Derrick Coleman
Derrick Coleman was selected 1st overall by the New Jersey Nets in the 1990 NBA Draft. He suited up for four different teams in his NBA career, earning more than $91 million in his 15 years in the league.
He worked as an developer and entrepreneur in Detroit after his playing career, ventures that obviously didn't go as well as his time in the NBA. In March, 2010, Coleman filed for bankruptcy, owing nearly $5 million to more than 50 different creditors.
Coleman took the honorable way out and reportedly sold off assets to pay his creditors.
4 Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker earned more than $110 million in a 12-year NBA career that included stops in Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, and Minnesota. He made three All-Star teams and won a championship with Miami in 2006.
Off the court, Walker was terrible with his money. He spent millions on luxury cars, designer suits, and lavish vacations. He partied hard and gambled even harder, reportedly losing close to $700,000 gambling in just two years, though he denies those claims.
Walker also made a bad investment in Chicago real estate right when the housing boom collapsed. He ended up being on the hook for millions in mortgages on foreclosed properties.
In 2010, Walker finally declared bankruptcy, citing nearly $13 million in liabilities to just $4.2 million in assets.
3 Shawn Kemp
Shawn Kemp is the poster child of losing most of his money to child support.
Kemp was proved to have fathered seven children with six different women, with rumors that he's fathered many more. The former Pistons and Supersonics great also got into problems with drug possession after his playing career was over, and was so strapped for cash he attempted a comeback attempt by playing ball in Italy.
Kemp made more than $110 million in his career. These days he's rumored to be much, much less, owning a Seattle-area restaurant.
2 Allen Iverson
Allen Iverson was one of the best players of his generation. He won four scoring titles in his career, was the face of Reebok, and almost single-handedly took the 76ers to the NBA Finals in 2011.
However, he also spent money like it was going out of style. He would regularly drop huge amounts of money per night at the casino and was reportedly such a pain to handle that many casinos banned him from their property. He had an entourage of more than 50 people and reportedly battled an alcohol problem for years. In a 2012 divorce proceeding, Iverson claimed he was broke and told the court he didn't have enough money for a cheeseburger.
If Iverson can hold out for about another 15 years, he'll be fine. Reebok reportedly set aside $30 million for the former 76er great. He just can't touch it until he's 55 in 2030.
1 Scottie Pippen
Scottie Pippen was one of the NBA's best players during his 17-year playing career. He's best known for being Michael Jordan's right-hand man during his years with the Chicago Bulls, but Pippen also played four years with the Portland Trailblazers and a year with the Houston Rockets.
Pippen was notoriously tight-fisted with cash and was well-known for endorsing everything and anything he could while with the Bulls. But according to reports, he didn't invest that money terribly well.
His worst investment was a $4 million private jet that didn't even fly. He did end up suing the lawyers who represented him on the purchase of the jet, eventually recovering $2 million.
In all, Pippen reportedly lost most of his $120 million in career earnings to bad investments and poor financial planning. It's widely reported he filed for bankruptcy, which doesn't appear to be true. Still, it seems to be pretty obvious Pippen isn't exactly rolling in the cash like he used to be.
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