NBA / Dec 3, 2009 / 9:30 am

NBA Players D Up Their Spending

Antoine Walker

In this world, nobody is guaranteed long-term financial security. Not even NBA players, whose annual salaries start at $467,588 and top off somewhere around the $23 million range. Antoine Walker was on the higher side of the scale, earning over $100 million over his 12-year NBA career. Barely a year after he last laced up his sneakers, Walker is reportedly broke.

Former NBA players squandering millions upon millions of dollars has been a trend this past year. Guys like ‘Toine, Jason Caffey, David Vaughn and Latrell Sprewell have all fallen on hard times since those big checks stopped coming in.

It’s amazing how some poor investments, frivolous spending habits and showering friends and family with gifts and money can erase eight, sometimes nine-digit earnings in just a matter of a few years.

While rich people going broke is hardly a new thing, the combination of what happened to Walker and Sprewell along with these tough economic times are starting to help drive the point home to players.

Scared the NBA may go on strike in the next few years, rookie sensation, Brandon Jennings, reportedly lives in a modest condo in Milwaukee and drives a Ford Edge.

Other players like the Suns’ Jared Dudley put themselves on strict budgets.

“I live a lifestyle that is accustomed to my means,” says Dudley, 24. “That might be tough for most people, but for me it’s not tough. If you make $1.2 million, you really don’t make 1.2. After taxes, maybe $500,000-600,000.”

Dudley says he doesn’t buy much jewelry, nor does he pull a Vincent Chase and pick up the tab for his all his boys when he goes on trips. He doesn’t like to buy cars – he says it’s a bad investment because they depreciate in value. If you wonder where he gets his smarts, well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

“I lucked out with my family, my mom, she was a lawyer,” says Dudley, who makes $1.3 million this season.

David Lee of the Knicks is smart enough to realize that an NBA player’s career span in short.

“I probably got one nice car and that’s about it,” says Lee who just signed a one-year, $7 million contract with the Knicks. “I just try to save as much as I can because I’d love to play this game forever, but unfortunately we only got so much time. So I just try to be as conservative as I can.”

Lee says the key is being wise, not overly frugal.

“I’ve gotten a little more lavish, but back when I was a rookie, I’d literally just spend my per diem and barely spend one percent of my paycheck and saving everything I could,” says Lee. “Being the 30th pick, I didn’t know how long I’d have in the league and I was kind of on the edge there barely playing. I still try to live by that most of the time. You try not to make yourself too bored, you got to spoil yourself sometimes.”

A lot of athletes find themselves in financial trouble when people close to them start asking for handouts or money to startup one of their great business ideas.

“When you first get money, it’s hard to say no,” says Knicks forward Al Harrington. “After awhile you realize the bigger picture and see that you have a family and you have kids that you have to take care of. Now it’s easy, it’s just hell no!” (laughs)

Asked whether money has ever strained his relationship with any family and friends, Harrington didn’t even hesitate.

“All the time. But if it strained it, it wasn’t real love anyway.”

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  • Mark

    Bout time they all wisened up

  • http://www.worldstarhiphop.com da real

    nice read, i know a lot of dudes in the league and for the most part they are tight with $$. they only splurge when necesarry or when people test them on how much $$ they really have. some times you gotta drop the black card to make somebody feel stupid, other than that guys know whats up and keep it humble

  • G

    my heart bleeds for them. now let me get back to work and earn my modest salary so i can pay off those student loans

  • F.L.A.S.H.

    lol at david lee, yea right, my cousin saw him at the land rover dealership last week

  • That’s what’s up

    David lee was probably trading in his rover for an F-150.

  • next big thing

    how does a guy loose over $100 million in just a year..

  • karizmatic

    It’s messed up but I think it’s indicative of the larger spending habits of people in general. It’s also a good argument for why maybe these guys should stay in college, to get some more education on how to properly utilize money, or maybe this is a service the NBA should provide. The fact of the matter is a lot of these guys might make 8 mil a year or whatever but live like they make 50 mil a year. You walk in their houses and it’s nice and everything but little do you know they don’t own a thing in there. Everything from the TV to the refrigerater to the bentley or whatever outside is financed. Then at the end of their careers when the money stops coming they can’t afford the payments on that stuff anymore. Plus as was already mentioned the money spent on the entourage and family and all that. Hell it even happens to people who don’t make that much. I hate to say it but the next guy I’m looking for about a story like this is AI. I hope he managed his money right.

  • Name (required)

    antoine walker aint broke. he could sell his house, get a job playing hoops in italy or russia and still live a lifestyle better than 95% of the worlds population.
    its good to see guys being responsible with their huge incomes, but thats what their supposed to do, you don’t get credit for doing stuff ur supposed to do.

  • No Money

    How bout writing a story on how much the agents representing NBA players make?

  • Drink the Haterade

    “All the time. But if it strained it, it wasn’t real love anyway.”

    I have always felt this way. When someone starts making really good money everyone always asks them for money and when the person says no, they always say that money chnaged you. No money didnt change me, it changed your expectation of me.

  • Diggity Dave

    Antoine Walker is a moron.

  • sh!tfaced

    Manny Pacquiao needs to read this…

  • NYK

    props to wise spending.

    latrell and toine not gonna get love from anyone. they made a lot and now they go broke. at least save up 20% and for a rainy day!

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    I’d try to do like Shaq said he’s done which is only spending my endorsement checks and saving all of my salary. He and Magic were also smart enough to open many succesful business ventures. If your a real hustler there’s no way you should ever go broke with that kind of cheeze. Hell even if you just bought 2 office buildings in a metro city and collected all the lease money that’s a couple million a year.

  • hbee

    toine is a donkey
    I heard the nba now has some sort of induction program where they teach rookies how to deal with fame/money off the court?

  • Snyde

    @ 14…

    Um…yeah you’d collect lease money until real estate/the economy in general tanked and then you’d have a mortgage on 2 office buildings with no tenants…and when translated to english that = BROKE


    $100 is nothing. Ask Mike Tyson — $400 Million.

    No reference to MC Hammer, whom started all this!
    You can’t touch this!


    Walker, Sprewell, Caffey, and Vaughn they all have a job with the NBA.

    Each will be an instructor — How Not To Squander Your Earnings 101!

  • Claw

    $100M, that means if you put that in a regular crappy ass bank account earning 1% you’d be making a million a year without touching your $100M. Damn, they should have put that shit under a mattress.

    Buy a building? Commercial Real Estate has dropped already near 30% with more to come. You see, that’s how players go broke with those crazy ideas.

  • snook

    Dime needs to have an article about the best/worst ways to leave the L

    Best: Drob
    Worst: Spree

  • Celts Fan

    @next big thing – what’s sad about Toine is that his problem (other than hitting casinos w/ MJ) was that he was trying to help too many friends and family. The Globe reported that he was supporting 70 (you read that right, SEVENTY) friends and family members and had allowed 5 people access and permission to use his CCs.

    @claw – that’s really flawed logic. He didn’t get a check for $100M, that was earnings combined over 10plus yrs before taxes, agent fees, etc. He probably cleared around $40M after that or about $3.5-4M per yr. On average.

    Then consider Toine’s only 33, so he prob figured there was one more check coming til he got on the Eddy Curry workout plan.

    Not saying it’s easy, but you can def see how he blew through all that paper.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    @Snyde…did you hear when I said buy. Where did you hear lease?

  • http://www.realgm.com Rare Air

    The smart ones set up an annuity for themselves, live off the interest, do not spend the principal. I agree it is smart to invest in business ventures, real estate, etc. But to do it wisely, many athlete have gone into that thinking they are being smart and just lost their ass big time. Refreshing though to hear not all the dudes in the L spend it till its gone.

  • RC

    I read an article two years ago about Scottie Pippen facing same problems of being broke.

  • Diego

    If you are an athlete that bought or built an office building or a condo building, you’d be sitting right now with a building that is pretty darn empty, because in this market, no one would be leasing (in the case of an office building) or buying (in the case of a condo building) your space/units.

    Just like the beautiful high-rise condo building Magic Johnson participated in building that just got built in Midtown Atlanta, which I am looking at from my office.

    Then you would have to pay your lenders, which you wouldn’t be able to do, and you’d lose your building and the $ you put into it.

  • BiG ShoT BoB

    @Diego I guess where I work in SF every building is pretty full. I could see where real estate might not be doing so well down south. But this also isn’t the only country in the world. But my point was every rich person stays that way by investing their money. Look at someone like Magic he always has his hands in everything so if one business fails you always have one that’s doing good to balance it out. As long as you have more businesses that are doing good than bad you continue to collect.

  • Celts Fan

    @RC – I heard Pip got ripped off (ironically enough) by his financial advisor and got most of it

  • DMC

    I can’t believe were even acting like real estate is some ultimate demise investment. Just because an economy is down and people aren’t necessarily buying doesn’t mean they aren’t renting, case in point of owning property and having a cash flow through collecting rents. Market and economy goes up you sell it and move onto bigger investments. When you have money like them small failure is meaningless and possibilities are endless.

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    No thugs interviewed in this, only black guy the interviewed is one whose mom is a lawyer. That’s like asking Grant Hill to free style against Jin the MC.

  • K-Dubs

    Nice article. Good to hear players are being smart with their money finally.

  • http://madbuckets.blogspot.com suga_shane

    a big LOL @ what most of you have to say about investing and real estate.

    The money some of these guys made, they could have paid off most of any decent sized commercial/rental property they bought in 10 years. Then they are set for life. Heck, all anyone really needs is 5mil and they can be good for life. Just live within your means!

    That’s the biggest issue. Some of these guys live within their means, IF they made 3-5 mil a year, every year. But they dont. most play less than 10 years and im sure the real number is closer to 3 to 5 years. You can’t spend that kind of money when you are 45, 10 or 15 years removed from basketball and a LONG ways to go before Social Security kicks in.

    My advice to these guys is don’t go to an “uncle” or a “friend” or a random guy. Go talk to the OWNERS of the team you play for! These are guys with countless wealth and most of these guys know how to invest it, where to invest it, and with whom to invest it with.

    Why would you ever trust the dude you grew up with, smoked weed with during all those days you ditched class with you money?

  • ScottG

    The higher the climb the harder the fall. It’s really all very sad when they had so much but didn’t have the smarts to live within their means. It doesn’t matter if you make $20 mil a year or $20k you still have to have a budget and save a little or in their case a lot. Human nature, the more we get the more we want but wanting is one thing; going out and getting what you want when you can’t sustain your income or support your buying habits is another. I hope they all land on their feet and one day appreciate what they had and help other people in need using their notoriety. Could be a lesson learned. Again the higher the climb the harder the fall.