Not everyone gets to pass an orange ball around a court with millions of people watching them for a job. There are plenty of people who aspire to the position and only a small percentage of those get to follow through with those dreams.
Playing a sport for a career is fun and it’s probably great being famous, if that’s your thing. What really puts you to bed with a smile though is making millions of dollars to play your favorite sport. It beats working retail to say the least.
Suddenly going from an average guy a handful of basketball junkies know to a world famous basketball player making millions isn’t all fun and games. If you aren’t ready, mentally and financially, to get a sudden boost in income and fame, you’re liable to make a few mistakes. One million dollar mistakes, or even ten million dollar mistakes. Imagine dropping a few hundred bucks on an autographed Peyton Manning jersey only to find out it's fake. Now image that kind of mistake on a much larger scale, and you find yourself in the position of the people on this list.
Whether it due to bad luck, poor performance, financial immaturity, or just plain immaturity, these twenty former NBA players and wannabe players were at one point at the top of their game before losing everything.
19 Renardo Sidney
Coming out of high school, Renardo Sidney was considered the next LeBron James. He was good and everyone knew his name. Unlike LeBron James, he came before the time when players could go from high school straight to the NBA, so he decided to play his year at Mississippi State.
That one year turned out to be three long years blemished by a year long suspension, three other suspensions, multiple NCAA violations, a fistfight with a teammate in the middle of a game, and a mediocre 11.9 PPG and 6.4 RPG.
The 6 foot 9, 310 pound kid from Mississippi that was a sure fire pick for the number one selection never played in the NBA. The best he could manage was a short stint in the D-League, where head coach of the Cal State D-Fenders, Reggie Theus, told ESPN:
“He could never get healthy. He had high blood pressure. It was getting better, but he could never get it right. We'd send him to the doctor, but he'd never get it right.”
Sidney last played basketball professionally in Canada, lasting just five games before being cut for being so out of shape.
18 Charles Barkley
Charles Barkley is one of the most interesting people in the NBA on any level. He’s likely the only person on this list to call me an idiot for putting him in this article, for example.
Everyone knows him as a boisterous NBA commentator and poor golfer now, but at the height of his playing career, he was an MVP, 11 time All-Star, and two time Olympic gold medal winner. He’s also in the Hall of Fame.
Barkley has had a gambling problem in the past. In an interview with ESPN, he revealed that he lost $10 million through gambling. In May 2008, a Las Vegas casino filed a civil complaint against Barkley, saying he failed to pay a $400k debt originated in October 2007.
Fellow TNT analyst Ernie Johnson approached him about the problem, and Barkley was quoted as saying “It's not a problem. If you're a drug addict or an alcoholic, those are problems. I gamble for too much money. As long as I can continue to do it I don't think it's a problem. Do I think it's a bad habit? Yes, I think it's a bad habit. Am I going to continue to do it? Yes, I'm going to continue to do it.”
17 Greg Oden
The former number one overall pick in 2007 is one of the most tragic cases of an NBA bust out there. Derailed by constant injury as opposed to poor play, Oden only lasted two years with the team that drafted him, the Portland Trail Blazers.
He tried a valiant comeback in 2013 with the Miami Heat, and eventually made it to the NBA Championship, though mostly riding the bench. In the playoffs, he didn’t score a single point and only mustered one assist and one rebound.
Late in 2014, Oden was charged with battery for assaulting his ex-girlfriend, according to ESPN. He hasn’t played in the league since, though he’s hoping for another unlikely comeback.
16 Javaris Crittenton
The NBA is thanking their lucky stars the Javaris Crittenton murder case isn’t getting as much attention as the Aaron Hernandez case is for the NFL.
The former 2007 19th overall pick by the Lakers never lived up to his potential, playing for three teams in as many years before eventually finding himself in China and the D-League Dakota Wizards. That’s where things get really bad for Crittenton.
In 2011, he pleded guilty to the murder of a mother of four, according to Deadspin. He claims it was an accident, instead intending to get revenge on a gang member who previously robbed him at gunpoint. While on bail, he was arrested again in January 2014 on drug charges.
Crittenton’s hope at an NBA future is forever ruined, as he was recently sentenced to 23 years in jail.
15 Chris Washburn
Washburn was the third overall pick in the 1986 draft. He was projected to be a great player, despite his troubles at NC State. His work ethic was called into question and he was caught stealing a radio. The NBA overlooked these transgressions, though incidents like this would come to define Washburn’s career.
He played only 72 games in the NBA in two years, failing three drug tests and refusing to play an exhibition game in the Soviet Union in 1987. His career came to an end in 1989 after receiving a lifetime ban from the NBA after another failed drug test.
Washburn played in minor leagues and overseas where success eluded him. Eventually, he stopped playing basketball entirely and ended up living in abandoned buildings and crack-houses in Houston, and even ate out of trashcans.
He’s trying to turn his life around, however. He kicked his drug habit and eventually was able to move in with his girlfriend, who started a fried chicken business in North Carolina, though that failed in 2013.
14 Scottie Pippen
This is a bit of an odd one. Scottie Pippen, perhaps the most famous sidekick this side of Robin, has made poor mistakes with his money in the past. After his playing days, Pippen involved himself in several business opportunities that almost all failed, leaving him close to broke.
In 2002, he purchased a $4 million jet that required an additional $1 million in repairs. Charles Barkley also said “no one’s cheaper than Scottie Pippen.”
As of now, Pippen is doing financially well. It was misreported in 2011 that he filed for bankruptcy. Scottie Pippen did indeed file for bankruptcy, a south Florida man named Scottie Pippen. Michael Jordan’s right hand man Scottie Pippen is from Arkansas.
Pippen tried to sue the media for misreporting that he was bankrupt, but the Supreme Court turned the suit down. While Pippen hasn’t lost everything, you could be forgiven for thinking so given his 2008 comeback attempt in Finland and Sweden.
13 Rick Mahorn
The “Baddest Bad Boy of them All” won his only NBA title in 1989 with the Detroit Pistons, as well as second team NBA All-Defensive Team a year later. Considering he played at tiny division II Hampton University and was a late second round pick in 1980, he could consider himself lucky. He even won two WNBA titles as assistant coach of the Detroit Shock.
After winning his title in 1989, his career as player went downhill from there. He was out of the league for two years, playing in Italy, and upon his return to the NBA his stats drastically recline.
A year after being named interim head coach of the Detroit Shock, he filed for bankruptcy, selling his championship ring for whatever cash he could get, according to Yahoo! Sports. He lost everything after investing in several business properties, and court filings show that he has less than $2,000 to his name.
12 Derrick Coleman
The number one pick in the year Mahorn won his only ring, Coleman’s career started off well. He won Rookie of the Year with the Nets and was an All-Star in 1994. His career quickly fell off from there, becoming a journeyman playing for four other teams and never again becoming an All-Star.
In 2010, five years after retiring, Coleman filed for bankruptcy owing nearly $5 million to creditors, according to Yahoo! Sports. According to his lawyer, he tried to put his career earnings in reviving (and failing) the collapsed Detroit economy.
“Mr. Coleman was focused on investing in various communities throughout the city of Detroit by developing real estate, creating jobs and revitalizing business opportunities. Due to the state of the economy, including the decline in the real estate market, Mr. Coleman’s investments could not be sustained.”
It’s a noble pursuit, but putting yourself in debt to save a city, and failing on top of that, doesn’t help anyone.
11 Shawn Kemp
As a McDonald's All-American, first round pick, six-time All-Star, and three-time All-NBA Second Team, Shawn Kemp should have been a lot better than what he was. He was a bit of a journeyman his whole career, playing for four NBA teams, nearly signing to two more, and playing in Italy.
Much like Larry Johnson, Kemp was brought down by unpaid child support. Having seven children by six women, Kemp owes millions of dollars, according to Complex. He was also arrested in 2005 for possession of cocaine, marijuana, and a pistol.
10 Eddy Curry
Eddy Curry is the classic example of why things aren’t always black and white.
Drafted 4th overall in 2001 by the Bulls, Curry played 11 years in the NBA before leaving due to knee injuries and cardiac problems. He went to play in China in 2013 and has yet to officially retire from the NBA.
Off the court, he was sued by his former chauffeur, David Kuchinsky, in 2009 for trying to elicit sex from him, as well as calling him racist and derogatory terms, on top of owing him over $90,000 in unpaid wages and expenses, according to Deadspin. He also ballooned in weight during his career, causing him to be traded away from the Knicks.
Just thirteen days later, Curry’s daughter and ex-girlfriend were found murdered in Chicago. His ex-girlfriend’s attorney was charged for the killings in 2013, having previously been in a relationship with her, according to The Daily Mail.
A few months later, in June 2009, Curr’s Chicago home was foreclosed as he owed over $200K in mortgages. He allegedly owed his personal chef several thousand dollars, as well as former NBA teammate Juwan Howard, who he owed $350k.
9 Allen Iverson
The former NBA MVP and 11 time All-Star never won a championship in his fourteen year career in the NBA. As a consolation prize, he earned $200 million through contracts and endorsements.
Perhaps that’s why his losses off the court are so shocking.
Iverson has been banned from multiple casinos in Detroit and Atlantic City. According to a report by ESPN in 2010, multiple NBA sources said that Iverson “will either drink himself into oblivion or gamble his life away.”
He and his bodyguard, Jason Kane, have been sued twice when Kane allegedly assaulted people under Iverson’s order. Later in 2010, a report by Kate Fagan stated that Iverson heavily in debt “by all accounts except his own.”
After a divorce in 2012, Iverson shouted to his ex-wife that “I don’t even have money for a cheeseburger." Iverson tried to mount a comeback overseas that was derailed by injuries and poor play and he was forced to retire in 2013.
8 Vin Baker
Baker averaged 15 PPG throughout his thirteen years in the NBA and was named an All-Star four times. Baker was lined up to go down as a great NBA player, but his career was derailed through alcoholism and bad investments.
In 1999, Baker admitted he was a recovering alcoholic, saying he would go on binges after losing games. His weight ballooned up to 300 pounds and he was caught, suspended, and eventually cut from the Celtics for drinking before practices in 2004.
In 2012, having been out of the league for six years, reports surfaced that Baker had lost over $86 million in bad investments and has owed more than a million dollars in back taxes to the state of Connecticut. He sued his long-time financial adviser for squandering his fortune, and even had to auction off his 2000 Olympic gold medal. He was arrested for DUI in 2007 and his home was foreclosed and sold for $2.3 million in 2008.
7 Kenny Anderson
The second overall pick in 1991 really never lived up to the high pick. He was an All-Star once and never won a championship after playing for a whopping nine teams over fourteen years. These days he’s appearing on Basketball Wives and playing in North Korea as part of Dennis Rodman’s “basketball diplomacy” efforts.
Now, the 42 year old has seven kids from three divorced wives, whom he’s paying over $8,500 a month in child support. After buying several expensive sports cars and investing in real estate, Anderson filed for bankruptcy and says he has less than $150k to his name, despite earning $63 million in the NBA.
6 Alvin Robertson
Alvin Robertson was drafted 7th overall in 1984, became an All-Star four times and was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1986.
Robertson had to leave the league due to poor play brought on by back injuries, though he continued to play in the CBA.
In 2010, Robertson was arrested for the sexual assault of a child, along with other horrendous acts. A 14 year old girl escaped her captors and claimed that Robertson was part of a ring that kidnapped her and forced her into prostitution. Robertson was also arrested several times throughout his career for beating his wife, abusing his girlfriend, and other domestic charges.
While out on bond earlier this year, Robertson cut off his GPS tracker and went on the run for a week before being caught, according to USA Today.
5 Dennis Rodman
Five time champion and two time All-Star Dennis Rodman made a name for himself not only through his play, but his larger than life, and controversial, personality.
Having last played in 2006 for the Brighton Bears and again in 2014 in a “basketball diplomacy” game in North Korea, Rodman has lost millions of dollars and faces possible legal action for North Korean trips.
In 2012, a year before his trip, it was stated by several people close to Rodman that he was broke and suffered drinking problems. according to ABC News. He allegedly owed more than $800k in child support and $50k in spousal support. On top of the child support, Rodman has had several failed business ventures, including a topless women’s basketball team at a New York strip club.
Now the US Treasury is investigating whether Rodman gave North Korean dictator Kim Jung-un thousands of dollars worth of luxury gifts, including an Italian suit, a fur coat, a handbag for his wife, and bottles of his own brand of vodka, according to Business Insider. This would be violating US and international law that states it is illegal “to have, directly or indirectly, imported, exported, or re-exported luxury goods to or into North Korea.”
4 Jason Caffey
Caffey was never a star in the NBA like others on this list. He won two championships with the Bulls in the late '90s and played for three teams, earning an estimated $29 million. That’s about all you can say about his career.
It’s sad then how the rest of his life has gone. Fathering ten children through eight women, Caffey has had to pay a small fortune in child support. In 2005, he was sued by a male stripper for making him feel so distressed he couldn’t strip.
Caffey can’t file for bankruptcy because that would open the door for those eight women to all sue him. He went to jail for eight days in 2008 for not paying child support, saying: “It’s never that I didn’t send child support it’s just that I didn’t send the amount that was said to be sent by the courts.”
4. Eddie Johnson
This two-time NBA All-Star was chosen in the third round in 1977, back when the NBA had three rounds. He became a starter in his second year, going all the way to the conference semifinals with the Atlanta Hawks.
In 1982, he got involved with drugs and a combination of addiction and injuries saw him out of the league five years later. After several suspensions due to cocaine use, the league banned him for life in 1987.
Getting kicked out of the league only made things worse for Johnson, when by 2006 he racked up over 100 arrests in his home state of Florida. The arrests stopped that year, only after he was caught burglarizing and sexually assaulting a young girl. He was charged in 2008 and sentenced to life in prison, according to Ocala.com.
3 Latrell Sprewell
The NBA player perhaps more famous for his hair than his play on the court, Sprewell famously turned down a $21 million dollar deal with the Timberwolves because it wasn’t enough money to feed his family.
The 4 time All-Star went on to default on his mortgage, have his $1.5 million yacht seized by authorities and had his $5.4 million mansion foreclosed in 2008. He was also sued by his former partner for $200 million who claims Sprewell went back on a deal to put her four kids through college, the same family that he was so desperate to feed, according to the NY Times.
He was out of the league entirely a year after turning down the three year deal. In hindsight, it’s hard to blame Sprewell. It can be hard to feed a family on $7 million a year.
2 Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson had a decent career in the NBA, making two All-Star appearances and bagging a Rookie of the Year award in 1992. After retiring, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UNLV in 2007 and was hired by the Knicks in 2012 as Basketball and Business Operations Representative.
Johnson is currently being sued by four different women, mothers to five different children, for owing them more than $120K in child support, according to TMZ Sports. Johnson also filed for bankruptcy this year, owing more than $300K in debts. Considering Johnson had a long and lucrative career in the NBA as a player and executive, and even appeared as an actor in films and TV, he’s lost a lot of money since retiring.
1 Antoine Walker
If you follow the NBA, you knew Walker was going to make this list. Perhaps the most famous case of an athlete losing everything, Walker has been very public with how he went into debt.
The three time All-Star and one time champion lost over $110 million through bad real estate investments and treating his family and friends to lavish gifts, according to Yahoo! Sports. Walker has been arrested on charges of DUI, robbed at gunpoint twice, charged with writing bad checks, accumulated massive gambling debts, and filed for bankruptcy.
Walker is trying to change his life and the lives of others, by becoming the number one example of poor choices. He’s trying to teach kids to be smarter with their money and not to trust anyone. As long as young kids are given million dollar contracts and asked to become the faces of franchises, there will inevitably be sad stories like Antoine Walker’s.