clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three-fifths busted: The financial future of an NBA player

New, comments

Most will be a millionaire, but is the rest a joke?

Jamal Murray is too young to walk into a bar, and is already a multi-millionaire
Jamal Murray is too young to walk into a bar, and is already a multi-millionaire
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So, Danilo Gallinari, Gary Harris, Wilson Chandler, Will Barton, and Nikola Jokic walk into a bar...

Except that the Denver Nuggets' Gallo, Chandler, and Jokic can't afford to buy a beer.

What the hell kind of a joke is that? What a crappy punch line. Poor structure, too many characters, just kind of a turd taco of an attempt.

Except it's not a joke. It's a math problem. One introduced to us by former NBA star and player's union VP Adonal Foyle.

Foyle was a part of a great story recently run in Belleville, Illinois' Belleville News-Democrat, detailing the financial rise and fall of Darius Miles, a Belleville native who had been signed to the NBA directly out of high school, spent eight seasons in the NBA with career earnings of 82.25 million, and declared bankruptcy three months ago. With years of exposure to this sort of data in his days with the league, Foyle's role in the article is to tell us just how many friends Miles has in his plight. From the article:

Sixty percent of NBA players file for bankruptcy in the five years after their retirement. Bad investments, misplaced trust, luxury purchases and child support can contribute to players' financial collapse, said Foyle, who has authored a book on the subject.

Foyle's stat is sobering. The notion that three-fifths of the league's players will have fully run through the millions of dollars they will have earned on average, often seeing those sorts of paychecks before they actually reach adulthood. It's no wonder they tend to treat the money as if it would never stop coming.

Often compounding the issue for players is the lack of any other form of real-world training, whether they have come straight from the high school ranks, or have often spent only a year or two in college, often with schedules primarily formulated to help them focus on basketball. The idea of financial planning, business acumen, marketing, endorsements, and the other aspects of owning your own "brand" are all woefully inadequate for what lies beyond their 4.8-year average career length.

Well, boo-freakin'-hoo, right? At least these guys have a shot at their millions, you might say. Try minimum wage sometime. It's a fair argument. We all bear responsibility for ourselves as we become adults. Even with that view, it doesn't make any less surprising the better-than-even odds that a young-and-overnight millionaire will lose every last dime. Even crueler, they'll lose the money right about the time they're losing a lot of the attendant adoration as well. Most are not amongst the lucky/telegenic few who find life as a television analyst, or spend their post-career days as an icon. The lion's share are are left to their own devices about their post-stardom portfolio.

What do you think, Nuggets Nation? Does the NBA owe its players anything more in the way of education or preparation for life after the league? Or does the buck stop (literally) at the player's feet?