Financial Lessons from Five Successful NBA Entrepreneurs

During the early 2000’s, back when I was making the transition from a kid to a young adult, my life was all about basketball. I caught the tail end of Michael Jordan’s career, and wondered how someone could have such an ideal career.  He was well-spoken, exciting and played as if God Himself had created a perfect basketball player. When he retired in 1998, there was a void in my life, as if I lost a childhood hero.
Photo Credit: Michael Wa (Creative Commons)
Allen Iverson entered the NBA in 1996, an exciting and unpredictable guard who was just as famous for his swagger as he was for his game. I didn’t like “AI” at first, thinking him a selfish, shoot-first player who cared more about stats than he did about winning. When MJ retired, I started noticing him more, as the new face of the league. He was as different from Jordan as you could get, but he had a game that was reminiscent of the acrobatic Filipino play style. And he carried himself with an enormous pride that belied his 5’10 frame. After a couple of seasons, he won me over.

No Skill on Money Matters

That’s why I find it incredibly sad to learn that the Iverson of today is essentially broke, having lost most of his money on entourages, debts and gambling. He made around $200 million during his playing career, which makes the fact that he managed to squander it in just a few years even more unbelievable.

Professional basketball players are often prone to bankruptcy after their playing career is over. Most of them don’t receive the right financial advice and spend like there’s no tomorrow. Another storybook example of financial ineptitude, former player Eddy Curry lost $60 million while still playing! He even managed to take out a loan for $850, 000 with an incredulous 85% interest rate.

Financially Savvy NBA Stars

But not all NBA players are clueless when it comes to managing funds. Michael Jordan recently had his net worth valued at $1 billion on the backs of Nike and a thriving sponsorship career. Even his purchase of the Charlotte Hornets back in 2010 for $175 million paid dividends, with the team now estimated at $600 million.

With proper financial management and sound business decisions, many NBA players have managed to grow their money, long after hanging up their sneakers.

Here are five NBA athletes who made their mark after their playing careers were over:

1. Jamal Mashburn

Monster Mash had a successful NBA career, most notably for the Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat. He made $75 million during his playing career and managed to translate that into a franchise empire, Mashburn owns over 71 restaurants, including Papa John’s Pizza and Outback Steakhouse franchises.

2. Shaquille O’Neal

As one of the most physically imposing players to ever step on a basketball court, Shaq dominated his way to 4 NBA championships and got paid handsomely for it – earning $300 million in salary alone. Today, Shaq is working as an NBA analyst and has multiple business ventures that include iced tea, fast food and even video games. He even managed to get an MBA back in 2005.

3. Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Magic shocked the world in 1991 when he announced that he had HIV. Most people thought that it would be the last we’d hear from the greatest point guard of all time. But Magic stuck around, not only managed to control his HIV, he also managed to earn a fortune via his company, Magic Johnson Enterprises, which counts in real estate, movie theaters and restaurants among its core businesses.

4. Jonathan Bender

Jonathan Bender’s story is one of the NBA’s great tragedies. Hailed as a can’t-miss potential superstar, he was drafted to great fanfare back in 1999 fresh out of high school. However, Bender never turned into the star he was supposed to be, suffering injuries that eventually led to his early retirement at only 28. Bender has managed to bounce back from his NBA career setback, inventing the JB Intensive Trainer – initially to help his knees, but later on for public use. Though his fortune may not be as large as the other names on this list, Jonathan Bender still stands out as a post-career success story.

5. Obinna Ekezie

Perhaps the only player on this list who might be more famous for what he did AFTER his playing daysthan what he accomplished shooting basketballs for a living. After an obscure playing career, Ekezie founded, one of the leading online travel companies in Nigeria. Ekezie is proof that you don’t even actually have to be a good player to have post-career success.

About the Author:
Bwayan Jordison is a gamer, toy collector and a forex trader at Metisetrade Inc.. He often writes articles to help and educate everyone about the foreign exchange market.