Breaking Down the Head-Scratching Business Ventures of NBA Stars

Luke PetkacFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2013

Breaking Down the Head-Scratching Business Ventures of NBA Stars

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    It's no secret that NBA stars make an absolute killing. 

    There are players in the league who are earning well over $20 million per year. And all that money has to go somewhere. The problem is that it all too often goes to the wrong place.

    Countless NBA stars over the years have tried to strike big with their own business ventures. And while it works for some—like former All-Star forward Jamal Mashburn—others have been less successful.

    They may not all be failures, but here are a few of the more bizarre business ventures in the league. Just a reminder that sometimes, basketball stars should stick to basketball.

Antoine Walker

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    Antoine Walker's story has become something of a precautionary tale for young athletes.

    Walker, a three-time All-Star, earned well over $100 million in salary throughout his 13-year NBA career. Yet somehow, the former star lost it all, declaring bankruptcy in 2009 (per Hoopsworld's Steve Kyler).

    A number of things led to Walker's bankruptcy—a huge entourage, lavish spending, gambling debts—but one of the biggest factors was his investment in real estate.

    According to ESPN's Mark Schwarz, Walker pumped more than $10 million into investment properties, entrusting his portfolio to an old (and completely incompetent) friend named Fred Billings.

    Walker later told ESPN's First Take (via NewsOne.com):

    There’s probably like 7 to eight banks that we had loans with. And it kind of hit me all at once. I had to pay back the money. Everybody’s situation is different. But that’s pretty much what down-spiraled mine. Just bad real estate investments.

    When he was asked if he blamed his financial advisers for his mistakes, he said:

    No. I don’t blame them. I blame more so myself. I think the one thing…that is difficult to do is to do investments while playing basketball. I think if it was one thing I would tell any young guy or anyone who’s playing and making money right now is to wait until the end of your career and start investing and start making money off the field or off the court.

    Walker's decision to leave his investments to an inexperienced friend was a poor one and sadly one that's all too common among pro athletes. Hopefully, young, successful athletes can learn from from his story.

Carmelo Anthony

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    According to Keith J. Kelly of the New York Post, Carmelo Anthony is entering the magazine business.

    Anthony recently purchased a 10-percent stake in HauteTime.com, which is an off-shoot of Haute Living, a national luxury lifestyle magazine. The company is set to launch Haute Time magazine in April, and it will have a planned circulation of 50,000.

    Anthony already is linked to Haute Time through his Instagram account, on which he advertises wristwatches with “watch of the day” pictures. Most of these pictures link back to the company.

    Haute Living CEO Kamal Hotchandani recently said (via Keith J. Kelly of the New York Post):

    Carmelo has a passion for watches. When he places a watch on Watch of the Day, the manufacturer gets 20,000 likes.

    So there's that, I guess. Honestly, Anthony seems much more suited to making magazine headlines rather than being an actual part of one. We'll just have to wait and see, but this might not end all that well.

Shaquille O'Neal

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    Shaquille O'Neal has actually proven to be a fairly shrewd businessman since he exited the league. But he also starred in Shaq Vs., proving that he's not quite perfect when it comes to his business decisions.

    Shaq Vs. was a reality show produced for ABC in which Shaq challenged other top athletes to competitions in their own sport. To be fair, it wasn't a massive commercial failure, and the show did survive two seasons. But the entire premise of the show was a head-scratcher.

    Shaq wasn't exactly at the peak of his athletic career when the show premiered in 2009, and the idea that he could compete with other top-flight athletes is pretty silly. On top of that, Shaq was sued for allegedly stealing the idea behind writer Todd Gallagher's book Andy Roddick Beat Me with a Frying Pan (per TMZ). He ultimately settled for around $500,000 dollars.

    But hey, in Shaq's defense, when you've got a chance to hit audiences with moves like these, you need to take it.

Dwyane Wade

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    Even if you're a huge Dwyane Wade fan, you probably never got the chance to eat at a D. Wade Sports Grill restaurant.

    Wade was hoping to bust into the dining market in 2007, signing a deal to lend both his name and likeness to a chain of restaurants. Though many were planned, only two of the restaurants ever opened, and each closed after just a few months (per blacktv247news.com).

    Two of Wade's former business partners—Mark Rodberg and Lauren Hollander—later sued Wade for $25 million, claiming that he violated their original agreement. Wade was seeking damages as well, saying that his name and likeness were used in ways that he did not approve of (via the Associated Press).

    The two parties eventually reached a settlement, but needless to say, this wasn't Wade's best business decision. He's not the only athlete to fall prey to the allure of a restaurant, and he certainly won't be the last. But hopefully he's learned to stick to the Eurostepping instead.

Scottie Pippen

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    If Antoine Walker has become the NBA poster boy of poor business deals, then Scottie Pippen has to be a close second.

    According to Trey Kerby of Yahoo Sports!, Pippen purchased a $4 million Gulfstream jet from a company called Air Pip in 2002. The former Chicago Bulls star wanted to have his own airliner so that he could fly between homes in Miami, Portland and Chicago more easily (per Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo Sports!).

    Unfortunately, due to a missed inspection, the jet's engine needed $1 million of repairs and never even got off of the ground.

    Pippen eventually sued his attorney for the missed inspection, winning $2.37 million for damages in 2011 after losing a previous $5 million judgment to U.S. Bank (per South Florida Business Journal's Paul Brinkmann).

    If Pippen really did have to do that much flying, then his desire for his own personal jet is understandable. But the fact that he made the purchase without being the least bit thorough is confusing.

    Kerby probably summed it up best when he said (per Kerby, Yahoo Sports!):

    That being said, I think we've all learned a valuable lesson here. Whenever you spend $4 million on a jet, make sure it works first.

Tim Duncan

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    The San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan recently opened up his own speed shop down in San Antonio, named the BlackJack Speed Shop.

    According to an ESPN column by Bill Speros, Duncan has wanted to get involved with cars for a while now, saying:

    I've always loved cars. I think it didn't really take off until later in college [when] I started loving horsepower and speed. As I got to the league, I was able to see more and know more about cars. It just kind of grew and grew and grew.

    Honestly, the head-scratching thing isn't the business itself—Duncan's always been a smart guy and not one to get way over his head on this. The surprising thing is just that Duncan loves luxury cars in the first place.

    Tim Duncan's supposed to be the “boring” superstar. He's never been flashy on or off the court. His off-court hobbies include Dungeons & Dragons and paintball (per ESPN). The idea that he's also into luxury cars just seems to be coming from left field. Is Tim Duncan going to be cool now? Will this make casual fans realize how good he still is? We'll have to see.

    Regardless, Duncan sounds really excited about everything, and the shop admittedly does look awesome. Maybe how he manages to fit into normal-sized cars is the real head-scratcher.