24 NBA Players Who Suffered Financial Setbacks

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For numerous youngsters, the pinnacle of their aspirations is playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, for those who transition from high school or college directly into the professional league, the reality often falls short of the dream. While getting drafted and securing lucrative contracts seems like a fast break to success, many players encounter financial challenges.

Excessive spending, misplaced trust, poor financial guidance, and the burden of supporting numerous family members can quickly lead to dire financial situations. Regrettably, this scenario has befallen 24 NBA players, once shining stars on the court, who have collectively lost millions of dollars. Their stories serve as cautionary tales in a league where financial literacy and prudent management are crucial for long-term prosperity beyond the game.

Kenny Anderson

Growing up in Queens, New York, Kenny Anderson showcased his basketball talent from a young age, drawing attention from recruiters as early as sixth grade, as reported by Sports Illustrated in 1994. Despite his promising start, Anderson’s NBA career spanning 14 years saw him amass just over $63 million in earnings, which he indulged in with extravagant purchases, owning 11 cars and splurging on champagne, cigars, and lavish parties. Reflecting on his past lifestyle, Anderson admitted to living a fast-paced life and relishing every moment of it in a 2019 interview with The Undefeated.

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However, financial challenges loomed large, particularly with expenses for his seven children and hefty child support payments, ultimately leading to his bankruptcy filing in 2005. Despite this setback, Anderson found redemption through a second career as a basketball coach. Currently, he serves as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Fisk University in Nashville, demonstrating resilience and leveraging his passion for the game to forge a new path beyond the NBA spotlight.

Chris Washburn

For towering athlete Chris Washburn, standing at 6’11”, the world seemed to be at his feet when he was drafted third overall by the Golden State Warriors in 1986. However, his promising career took a tragic turn as he struggled with drug addiction, leading to his dismissal from the NBA after just 72 games across two seasons.

Washburn then found himself playing internationally in Europe and South America, but financial mismanagement saw him destitute upon retirement in Houston during the 1990s, having squandered his $1.25 million NBA earnings. He endured periods of homelessness, resorting to scavenging from trash cans or facing incarceration due to drug-related charges. Yet, Washburn’s tale takes a hopeful turn, as he revealed on the Brown and Scoop podcast in 2016 that he had been clean for 14 years, signaling a remarkable journey of resilience and redemption.

Delonte West

Over his nine-year tenure in the NBA, Delonte West showcased his talents with stints at the Boston Celtics, Seattle SuperSonics, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Dallas Mavericks. However, his journey took a tragic turn as he faced a tumultuous battle with mental illness. Struggling since childhood, West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2008. By 2012, despite the end of his basketball career, he lived lavishly, squandering his $16 million earnings.

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His financial mismanagement led him to purchase an extravagant yet impractical eight-bedroom home, unable to afford its heating costs. In a poignant moment, he proposed to his pregnant partner with a makeshift ring crafted from string. West’s story serves as a stark reminder of the profound impact of mental health struggles, transcending the glitz of professional sports to highlight the importance of support and understanding for those facing similar challenges.

Rick Mahorn

Rick Mahorn enjoyed a prosperous career in the NBA, starting with the Washington Bullets in 1980 after being selected as a second-round draft pick. Despite initial dissatisfaction over his trade to the Detroit Pistons in 1985, Mahorn ultimately returned to the city post-retirement to coach the WNBA team, the Detroit Shock. Despite earning over $7 million throughout his NBA tenure and securing a six-figure income as a broadcaster, Mahorn faced financial challenges, leading to a bankruptcy filing in 2010.

Reports from MLive indicated that Mahorn and his wife had a monthly income of $6,161 but faced expenses more than double that amount. Presently, Mahorn works as an NBA broadcaster, and his reported net worth stands at $4 million. His journey highlights the financial complexities often faced by professional athletes, emphasizing the importance of prudent financial management despite significant earnings.

Tim Duncan

Regarded as one of the NBA’s premier power forwards, Tim Duncan enjoyed a nearly two-decade-long career in the league. Selected as the first overall pick in the 1997 draft, Duncan cultivated a reputation for his diligent work ethic and leadership both on and off the court. However, amidst his success, Duncan faced a significant financial setback due to the exploitation of his trust and wealth by a close associate. During his 2013 divorce proceedings, Duncan discovered that his financial adviser had orchestrated a deal that cost him over $25 million, concealing his personal interests in the process.

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In response, Duncan pursued legal action against the adviser, resulting in a federal judge’s ruling in 2017. The judge ordered the adviser to reimburse Duncan $7.5 million and sentenced him to four years in prison for his fraudulent conduct. This incident underscores the vulnerability of even the most accomplished individuals to financial exploitation and highlights the importance of vigilance in safeguarding one’s assets.

Erick Strickland

In 1996, Demerick Montae Strickland joined the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent, embarking on a promising basketball career. Over the span of a decade, he amassed earnings exceeding $13 million. However, a single ill-fated real estate investment would unravel his financial security. In 2001, enticed by a purported opportunity in Georgia, Strickland relied on the advice of a “friend of a close friend.” Seeking counsel, he turned to his father, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, who served as his business manager.

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Unfortunately, their due diligence fell short. The property’s actual value starkly contrasted with the inflated appraisal they had received. Consequently, Strickland suffered substantial losses. Compounding matters, the friend who facilitated the deal was ultimately excluded, resulting in a strained relationship. This unfortunate turn of events highlights the perils of misguided financial decisions and the importance of thorough research and trusted advice in safeguarding one’s wealth and well-being.

Glen Rice

After a successful 15-year career in the NBA, Glen Rice amassed over $60 million in earnings. However, by 2016, Rice found himself facing financial hardship, admitting he was “almost broke.” The basketball icon, affectionately known as “G-Money,” disclosed his financial struggles in response to a paternity lawsuit filed against him. Rice stated that he was having difficulty meeting his monthly payments of $1,500 and petitioned a court in Fort Lauderdale to reduce them to $600.

Since retiring from professional basketball, Rice has encountered challenges in securing stable employment. He primarily sustains himself by selling signed memorabilia. Rice’s case highlights the common phenomenon of athletes facing financial difficulties after retirement, despite their substantial earnings during their playing careers. It serves as a reminder of the importance of financial planning and management, even for high-earning individuals in the sports industry.

Gilbert Arenas

Gilbert Arenas enjoyed a lucrative career in the NBA, amassing a substantial $163 million over 12 years. However, his extravagant lifestyle and alleged financial mismanagement have significantly impacted his net worth. Arenas made extravagant purchases, including a $3.5 million home adorned with expensive accessories and a $100,000 landscaping project featuring a shark tank housing live sharks. Maintaining the tank cost him $5,000 monthly for fish feed and an additional $1,500 for a caretaker.

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Arenas attributes his financial decline not only to his lavish spending habits but also to a legal battle with his former business management firm. In 2015, he filed a lawsuit against them for $40 million, alleging they mismanaged his finances, resulting in substantial losses. While Celebrity Net Worth estimates his current worth at around $20 million, it represents a significant decrease from his once nine-figure net worth. Arenas’s story serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of prudent financial management, even for high-earning individuals.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson, following a stellar college career, was selected as the first pick in the 1991 NBA draft and later clinched the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in his debut season. Throughout his illustrious decade-long NBA tenure, Johnson amassed an estimated $84 million in earnings. However, by 2015, he faced financial difficulties, particularly in meeting his child support obligations. Consequently, Johnson filed for bankruptcy.

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One of the mothers of his children sought to have his assets liquidated by the court to settle the $900,000 he owed her. In a unique proposition, Johnson offered his Orange County home, valued at over $800,000, as a settlement. Additionally, he committed to paying her $1,500 monthly until the debt was cleared. This unconventional arrangement underscored Johnson’s efforts to address his financial obligations amidst challenging circumstances, highlighting the complexities athletes may encounter in managing their finances beyond their playing careers.

Randy Brown

Randy Brown entered the NBA in 1991 with the Sacramento Kings before joining the Chicago Bulls in 1995. Throughout his 12-year career, he earned over $15 million. However, poor investments in real estate and restaurants led to financial ruin, prompting him to declare bankruptcy in 2008. Brown described the process as humbling, particularly when a judge ordered him to auction off his championship rings from the Bulls’ three title wins in May 2009.

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Despite this setback, Brown persevered and transitioned into coaching roles. He worked as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings and later joined the Chicago Bulls organization, initially in player development before rising to the position of Bulls assistant coach. Brown’s journey serves as a testament to resilience and the ability to bounce back from adversity, demonstrating that success can be found in new avenues even after facing significant challenges.

Dan Issel

Dan Issel transitioned from a successful career in the American Basketball Association (ABA) to the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, where he played for nine years before assuming coaching and executive roles. However, his coaching career faced an abrupt halt due to a racial slur incident captured on camera during a confrontation with a heckling fan.

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Subsequent financial misfortunes, including bad deals, left him over $4.5 million in debt to numerous creditors, including family members. Issel filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and to clear his debts, he was compelled to auction off several prized possessions, including his championship rings. He has since retired to Los Angeles, where he serves as an executive director at Bel Air Presbyterian Church.

Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman’s journey from latecomer to basketball star to philanthropist is a testament to his resilience and commitment to his community. Despite facing financial setbacks, his dedication to Detroit never wavered.

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Through Coleman’s Corner and the DC Elite program, he continued to invest in the city and its youth, demonstrating a deep-rooted belief in the power of sports and education to uplift communities. Coleman’s story serves as an inspiration, showing that success isn’t just measured by wealth but by the impact one makes on the lives of others.

Jason Caffey

Coleman settled in Detroit upon retirement, while Jason Caffey, once brimming with potential in basketball, started his career with the Chicago Bulls, contributing to their first two wins of three consecutive championships.

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However, his trajectory was hampered by mental health struggles and a 2003 assault charge, leading to the Bucks buying out his contract. Despite earning $34 million and two championship rings, Caffey filed for bankruptcy in 2007. Now, half of his monthly income goes towards child support for his 10 children.

Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker, during his 13-year NBA career spanning teams like Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Minnesota, and Memphis, amassed a staggering $108 million. However, his post-retirement financial management led him into dire straits. Despite the immense earnings, Walker continued to spend lavishly as if his income hadn’t ceased. Within just two years of retirement, he found himself drowning in a $12.7 million debt, with a mere $4.3 million left of his fortune. Notably, he supported around 30 individuals besides funding his extravagant lifestyle.

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Facing financial ruin, Walker declared bankruptcy in 2010. The following year, he pleaded guilty to six felony charges related to covering gambling losses with fraudulent checks. Despite these setbacks, Walker redirected his focus towards financial literacy. He collaborated with Morgan Stanley, contributing to their Global Sports & Entertainment financial literacy initiative. Through this, he aimed to educate both aspiring and current athletes on prudent money management practices, drawing from his own tumultuous experiences.

David Harrison

David Harrison’s journey from the heights of basketball stardom to working at McDonald’s is a testament to life’s unpredictability. Despite being a promising first-round draft pick in 2004 and earning millions in the NBA, financial struggles led him to a humbling job at the fast-food chain. It’s a stark contrast from his early success, playing in prestigious events like the McDonald’s All-American Game.

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However, Harrison’s resilience shone through as he found new avenues for success. Transitioning into stock market investments and basketball commentary, he demonstrated adaptability and determination. His story serves as a reminder that success isn’t always linear and that setbacks can lead to unexpected opportunities for growth and reinvention.

Latrell Sprewell

Latrell Sprewell, renowned for his basketball prowess, faced adversity after an altercation with coach P.J. Carlesimo resulted in contract termination and suspension from the Golden State Warriors. Despite earning millions during his NBA career, financial troubles persisted, including defaulted loans and legal battles.

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Even in retirement, Sprewell’s financial challenges continued, exemplified by his 2021 GoFundMe campaign for his granddaughter’s medical expenses. His story underscores the necessity of financial planning, particularly for athletes facing uncertain futures.

Clifford Robinson

Clifford Robinson had a remarkable NBA career spanning 18 years, retiring at the age of 40, a rarity in the professional sports world. However, it became evident why he continued playing for so long when his extravagant spending habits came to light. Despite earning approximately $60 million during his time in the NBA, Robinson faced financial difficulties within two years of retirement. His net worth plummeted, leaving him with $12.4 million in debt and only $7.1 million in assets.

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In 2009, he filed for bankruptcy and was compelled to auction off his lavish 5,900-square-foot home in Hillsboro, Oregon.Post-bankruptcy, Robinson’s life took some intriguing turns. He ventured to North Korea alongside Dennis Rodman and even participated in the television show Survivor. His journey exemplifies both the highs and lows that can accompany a professional sports career, serving as a cautionary tale about the importance of financial management and planning for the future.

Ray Williams

Ray Williams, a former NBA player, enjoyed a successful career spanning from the late 1970s to the 1980s. Notably, he achieved fame by scoring an impressive 52 points in a single game during the 1981-82 season. Despite earning over $2 million by the time of his retirement in 1987, financial mismanagement, including falling victim to a real estate scam, left him destitute.

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By 2011, he was living in his car in Florida. Fortunately, his former teammates rallied around him, helping him secure a job as a recreation specialist in New York. However, his struggles persisted as he battled colon cancer, ultimately passing away in 2013. Williams’ story serves as a poignant reminder of the challenges faced by some professional athletes after their playing careers end.

Allen Iverson

Allen Iverson, over his illustrious 15-year career, amassed nearly $155 million in earnings. However, his extravagant spending habits often overshadowed his financial success. Reports surfaced of Iverson routinely splurging tens of thousands of dollars at strip clubs, indulging in lavish purchases of cars, jewelry, and private jet travel. Even mundane expenses like dining at TGI Friday’s saw him dropping thousands.

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Despite his lucrative career, Iverson faced financial woes, defaulting on a $1.2 million mortgage in 2013, leading to the foreclosure of his home. Fortunately, his lifeline comes from a Reebok endorsement deal, securing $32 million set aside in a trust to be released to him in 2030. This serves as a reminder of the importance of financial management and the potential consequences of unchecked spending, even for high-earning athletes.

Eddy Curry

Eddy Curry, despite being drafted fourth overall in 2001, struggled with weight and financial mismanagement throughout his 11-year NBA career. His legacy is marred by issues with his physical condition and financial woes. In 2009, he revealed that his agent had exploited him by taking out loans in his name without consent, using the funds for personal extravagances like electronics and vacations.

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Notably, a loan with an 85% interest rate further compounded Curry’s financial troubles. Despite earning approximately $70 million in his career, his lavish spending habits, including a $1,000 cable bill, $6,000 for a personal chef, and $17,000 monthly expenses for his loved ones, quickly depleted his fortune. Curry’s story serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of financial literacy and prudent management, even for high-earning professional athletes.

Darius Miles

Darius Miles, drafted third overall by the L.A. Clippers in 2000, saw his promising career derailed by a combination of on and off-court challenges. Despite earning $62 million over nine years, his fortunes evaporated within eight years of retirement. Leaving behind a tough upbringing in East St. Louis, he entered the NBA at just 18, thrust into a world of wealth and fame.

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However, financial missteps, including a substantial loss in real estate, led to bankruptcy in 2016. To settle debts, he auctioned off prized possessions like an autographed LeBron James jersey and personal items. Miles’ story serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of sudden wealth and the importance of financial literacy in professional sports.

Scottie Pippen

Despite earning around $110 million throughout his NBA career, Scottie Pippen faced financial setbacks, including a reported $27 million loss in bad investments and spending $4.3 million on a jet that required costly repairs. In 2007, he sold his Portland mansion at a $1 million loss.

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Despite these challenges, Pippen maintains a net worth of approximately $50 million. He has diversified his endeavors, venturing into writing with a published memoir and entrepreneurship with a bourbon business. Despite the setbacks, Pippen’s financial acumen and diversified ventures seem to have secured his financial stability.

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley, also known as Sir Charles, is celebrated as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. Over his illustrious 16-year career, he amassed earnings of just over $37.5 million. However, Barkley’s life wasn’t without its challenges, notably his struggle with gambling addiction. He candidly admits to losing staggering sums, estimating around $1 million on 30 separate occasions.

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In one particularly alarming instance, he reportedly lost over $2.5 million in just six hours. Despite these setbacks, Barkley managed to bounce back and reinvent himself as a highly regarded basketball commentator. Working for TNT, he commands an estimated annual salary of $1.5 million, showcasing his resilience and ability to overcome adversity.

Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman’s basketball career spanned 14 years, marked by his flamboyant personality and remarkable skills on the court. Despite earning $27.5 million and winning numerous awards, including seven rebounding titles and two Defensive Player of the Year awards, he faced financial struggles, falling victim to a predatory advisor.

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Today, his net worth is around $500,000. Yet, his legacy remains enduring, captivating fans worldwide with his charisma, resilience, and philanthropic gestures both on and off the basketball court.